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There are certain circumstances where applications can not be used with the usual input and output devices, such as a mouse, keyboard, monitor and printer. This may be because the user is sitting in a car and can only occasionally look at the screen and has no keyboard at all. Maybe the user is disabled and can not see or hear or use traditional keyboards. Alternative input and output devices are called assistive technology, or AT. Examples of AT are Braille terminals, which are used mainly for display of single text lines where each character is represented by raised or lowered dots and can be read by touching them with the finger tips, screen magnifiers, which magnify the screen contents and optionally change color, and screen readers, which use speech synthesis to read displayed text or descriptions of objects out loud in a human language.

To make applications accessible to the disabled or to people in mobile environments, alternative input and output devices have to be supported. In order to support a wide variety of ATs, the approach taken by Java and Gnome has been adopted: an API tailored to the specific needs of AT and modeled closely after its Java counterpart is used as an interface between the available data of the elements visible on screen and the AT, which transforms that data and presents an alternative view of the screen contents.

Content on this page is licensed under the Public Documentation License (PDL).
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