CategoryAccessibility

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This page is about ways to improve accessibility for Emacs.

Non-traditional ways of using Emacs

Enhancements to traditional ways of using Emacs, can improve accessibility esp. for for the physically challenged. In particular, Emacs can provide functionality to people who cannot or do not want to use only a standard keyboard, mouse, and screen. Such non-traditional means include speech activation, screen readers, FootSwitches, special or modified keyboards, key-chording, GamePad, and mobile access.

Sacha Chua with mobile Emacs

Probably more than any other ‘editor’ available the standard current Emacs distribution provides myriad facilities for accessing functionality in non-standard ways. There are few better choices than Emacs for physically challenged users seeking to make the most of their computing environment. Because there are very few tools capable of providing accessibility features like Emacs it is important to take time to understand what Emacs can do for you before becoming discouraged.

On a more cautious note, see RepeatedStrainInjury. 😟

Standard Emacs - Minor Modifications

Directing Emacs by Voice

Directing Emacs Using Alternative Devices

Extending Emacs Accessibility with Packages

As compared with most other editors Emacs presents a very stripped down GUI interface and it can be easy to get lost/confused when initially using Emacs. Therefor, users should explore and become familiar with the standard Emacs accessibility features before electing to add an additional utilities which extend the standard behavior.

While this may seem obvious to longtime Emacs users, new users often don’t know what they don’t know and may as a consequence be mistaken into believing that just because the presence of a feature isn’t immediately accessible it must therefore require an extension.

With regards to Emacs accessibility extensions it is paramount that new Emacs users first seek to understand what needs are and are not being met by standard Emacs before attempting to modify their Emacs input environment in non-standard ways.

For example, both the Anything and Icicles package suite provide Emacs extensions which may enhance accessibility for some users; however, to realize the full benefit of the Anything and Icicles feature sets may require installation of multiple files and numerous extensions and may modify the standard Emacs in ways which conflict with the the existing accessibility features otherwise provided by the current standard Emacs distribution. IOW, Caveat Emptor.

Other Libraries that May Make Emacs More Accessible

The packages enumerated in the following sections, while not specifically claimed by their authors as having been developed to improve user accessibility using non-standard approaches, devices, etc. may none the less be of use. These packages listed here have been divided into two sections:

Small Utility Packages - Single-File

Major Packages - Multi-file