Proposal: DBus activation of Accessibility

Frederik Gladhorn gladhorn at
Mon May 16 22:29:39 BST 2011

sorry for cross-posting. I would just like to have this looked at by everyone 
so we can simply implement it.

During the ATK/AT-SPI hackfest it came up a few times that we have no solution 
to enable accessibility (eg Screen Readers) on the fly. The conclusion was that 
using DBus would fit everyones needs and make it easy for third partys to 

Proposal: DBus activation of Accessibility

Problem description: We need a cross-desktop solution to dynamically activate 
the accessibility framework.
Ideally we could switch on accessibility functionallity by default. At the 
moment it seems that most solutions use quite a few resources, therefor the 
best short-term solution would be to find a way to enable accessibility on the 

As an example this is helpful when on first time use or when the computer is 
shared with users that have no accessibility needs. Currently Gnome requires 
the user to log out and back in. KDE has no solution.

Proposed solution: To activate accessibility, a dbus notification is sent to 
inform about the state of the accessibility framework. The enabled status of 
the accessibility framework can be queried via the same mechanism. A setter is 
also provided to activate the accessibility framework desktop wide.

The DBus interface contains a property that says whether accessibility is 
enabled, has a notification signal and a method to enable accessibility.

Currently the at-spi2 dbus registry would be the best place for this 

DBus service: org.a11y.Bus

Proposed DBus interface:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<node name="/node">
<interface name="org.a11y.status">

  <property name="IsEnabled" type="b" access="read"/>

  <method name="Enable">
    <arg direction="in" name="enabled" type="b"/>

  <signal name="NotifyEnabled">
    <arg name="enabled" type="b"/>


Gnome could couple this with the existing gconf notification. For KDE the 
system settings module will have to be extended.


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