X Accessibility : AccessX

Developed by Dan Linder

Email AccessX

Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES)

University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign

Freeware AccessX

"Accessx" is an open source utility to set and display all of the XKEYBOARD (XKB) AccessX features. It is designed to mimic the interface provided by the Sun and DEC "accessx" tool (now available as part of the official X11R6.6 release of X from The X Consortium), and the similar SGI "accessx" tool. The original AccessX additions to X (via XKB) and the user interfaces to access that functionality came courtesy of Mark Novak, Will Walker, Robert Malone, Erik Fortune, and R. C. Underwood with X11R6.1. Many of the major UNIX vendors supplied a tool called "accessx" (though there were different "accessx" tools) to access the functionality provided by the AccessX parts of XKB. There are a few other open source tools for manipulating AccessX (see Links), but ours provides an interface and file format similar to the popular Sun tool.

The current tool started life as a senior design project at the University of Illinois Dept. of Computer Science, authored by Rishi Dubey, Aaron Klish, Kristian Rickert, and Shane Smith, under Dept. of Rehabilitation Education Services Coordinator of Assistive Communication and Information Technologies Dr. Jon Gunderson and Dept. of Computer Science professor Dr. Ralph Johnson. The current version was written based on the original Senior Project code, and is currently maintained by Dan Linder working under Dr. Gunderson.

The tool consists of a command line utility which does all the work, and a front-end GUI written in Tcl/Tk for users who prefer graphical interfaces. Major features of this accessx tool include:

  1. Command Line Interface
  2. Tcl/Tk Graphical User Interface (GUI)
  3. Configuration File (mostly compatible with Sun/DEC AccessX format)

System requirements include:

  1. X11R6.1 or Later X Server
  2. Tcl/Tk (new-ish revision) for the GUI

To install, you must be logged in as root (or otherwise have write access to the necessary directories, namely the /usr/local tree):

  1. First, download the gzipped source tarball for version 0.951: accessx0951.tar.gz.
  2. Next, extract the files: "tar zxvf accessx0951.tar.gz". This will create a new directory called "accessx" containing all of the source files, a make file, the Tcl/Tk GUI script, and some miscellaneous files.
  3. CD into this new directory, and type "make". This will compile the source files into the commandline utility "ax".
  4. Type "make install". This will copy the commandline utility "ax" and the Tcl/Tk GUI script "accessx" to /usr/local/bin, which is hopefully in all users' paths. This will also perform chmod's to make the two files executable.
  5. Finally, you may type "make cleaner" to remove all the intermediate files, as well as the final compiled "ax".
  6. Later, you may come back to this directory and type "make uninstall" to remove the binary and the script from /usr/local/bin.
  7. The GUI (accessx) should be fairly self-explanatory. The command line utility (ax), given no arguments, will attempt to load your AccessX configuration file, named "~/AccessX". Type "ax help" for help on all of its many features.

While my accessx utility supports all the AccessX features of XKEYBOARD, and it is also quite good at reading and parsing the Sun/DEC AccessX configuration file format, there are some features that were added by Sun/DEC that were not part of the original AccessX specification.

The following are features not currently supported by my software. They are hopefully preserved when using the AccessX Tcl/Tk GUI:

  1. ToggleKeysToggle.set for ToggleKeys
  2. SoundOnOffToggle.set for ???
  3. SlowKeysOnAcceptToggle.set for some feature of SlowKeys
  4. SlowKeysOnPressToggle.set for some other feature of SlowKeys
  5. EnableAccessXToggle.set for enabling AccessX. It should already be enabled; I may add this in the future.

For More Information:

Email questions or comments to: accessx@rehab.uiuc.edu