Accessibar is dually licensed under the Mozilla Public License and the GNU General Public License. Accessibar uses FreeTTS for its voice engine and the Java Speech API which carry the following license terms and acknowledgments.

Accessibar - Accessibility Browser Extension Toolbar
With Integrated Text To Speech System


USER'S GUIDE

Table of contents:

 

1 Installation Instructions

1.1 Step 1 - Installing the Accessibar Toolbar:

1.1.1 The Toolbar Installation File

1.2 Step 2 - Accessibar's Java Text To Speech Installation

1.2.1 Installing Java's Latest J2SE Runtime Environment (JRE)

1.2.2 Installing Text To Speech Related Classes

2 Supported Functions

3 Menu Accessibility

4 Running and Usage

4.1 Toolbar's Main Menu

4.2 Options Configuration

4.2.1 Hotkey (Keyboard Shortcut) Settings

4.2.2 Reader Settings

4.3 Changing Background and Foreground Colors

4.4 Increasing and Decreasing Font Size

4.5 Increasing and Decreasing Line Spacing

4.6 Hiding and Showing Graphics

4.7 Restore Page

4.8 Using Accessibar's Text To Speech Reader



USER'S GUIDE


1   Installation Instructions

1.1 Step 1 - Installing the Accessibar Toolbar:

1.1.1  The Toolbar Installation File

Currently two installation files will be required for a "complete" installation of all Accessibar features. One installs the toolbar into the browser (accessibar.xpi) and the second installs Accessibar's text-to-speech related Java classes (InstallAccessibarReader_0_0_9.jar). If you are just interested in Accessibar's visual web page manipulation features alone, installing Accessibar's text-to-speech reader as described in Step 2 can be skipped altogether.

The XPI installation file (accessibar.xpi) contains all the toolbar related directories and files needed. First we will install the toolbar into the browser:

Image of Installation Confirmation Dialog

Figure 1: Installation Confirmation Dialog

Confirm installation by selecting Install, and the toolbar will install itself into the browser's extensions directory. Next, restart the browser and the toolbar should appear within the browser as follows:


  Image of Installed Toolbar in the Browser's User Interface


Figure 2: Installed Toolbar in the Browser's User Interface

At this point all the non-text-to-speech features of the toolbar should be fully functional. In our next (and final) installation step we will set up Accessibar's Java reader related classes.


1.2  Step 2 - Accessibar's Java Text To Speech Installation

1.2.1  Installing Java's Latest J2SE Runtime Environment (JRE)


Accessibar's Java Text To Speech implementation makes use of Generics1 (parameterized types) introduced in version 5.0 of the Java Standard Edition (J2SE 5.0), and therefore the Java Runtime Environment 5.0 is required for Accessibar's Java Reader functionality to run properly. The latest JRE can be downloaded from Sun at the following URL:http://www.java.com/en/download/manual.jsp.

1.2.2  Installing Text To Speech Related Classes

I have made available a JAR based installer which automatically detects the local JRE directory and copies all files where they are needed. The installer was created using IzPack2. The latest Accessibar Reader installer can be downloaded here.

Once the Java Runtime Environment 5.0 is properly in place, the installer can be launched by double clicking on InstallAccessibarReader_0_0_9.jar. This will bring up the following dialog window:

Image of Accessibar's Java Text-to-speech Installer Dialog

Figure 3: Accessibar's Java Text-to-speech Installer Dialog


Select "Next" and the following dialog will appear showing the progress of the automated installation process:

Image of Install Progress

Figure 4: Install Progress

Select "Next" once again and a final confirmation dialog will appear:

Image of Install Competed Dialog

Figure 5: Install Competed Dialog

Select "Done" and Accessibar should now be fully installed!

2  Supported Functions

Accessibar currently provides the following functionality (the Running and Usage Section will demonstrate how to evoke these features from the toolbar):


3  Menu Accessibility

Accessibar ensures its functionality can be fully accessed using the keyboard. This is done by implementing accesskeys as well as configurable hotkeys for Accessibar's various functions.

An accesskey is an underlined letter in the menu or dialog that indicates to the user a quick, keyboard method of simulating a click on that element. On Windows and UNIX operating systems, pressing the underlined letter together with the ALT key will simulate a click. So if I wished to "click" on (open) Accessibar's Accessibility Toolbar menu button using the keyboard (where the A is underlined) I would press ALT+A which would then open the drop down menu.

A hotkey is defined at Mozilla's accessibility site3 as "a key with a binding4 that crosses widget boundaries, and can act globally in the current window". Basically these are key combinations that allow users to access frequently-performed actions quickly by using the keyboard to bypass the menu when carrying out commands. Since the hotkey bypasses the menu and is not dependant on an underlined letter in the command wished to carry out, I have created an Options dialog which allows hotkeys to be changed to suit the user's needs. In order to help avoid hotkeys conflicting with other hotkeys that may already be in place for the browser, all of Accessibar's configurable hotkeys are keys pressed in combination with Ctrl+Shift. Configuring hotkeys is described in the following Running and Usage section.

  Image of Examples of Accesskeys and Hotkeys.
Figure 6: Examples of Accesskeys and Hotkeys.

4  Running and Usage

Once the toolbar has been successfully installed it will appear in the browser's toolbox as displayed above in Figure 2. In this section I will demonstrate all of the toolbar's features described in the previous section.

4.1  Toolbar's Main Menu

Accessibar's main menu can be found by pressing the Accessibility Toolbar menu button as shown in the following figure:


Image of Toolbar Main Menu

Figure 7: Toolbar Main Menu


Through this main menu, users can access Accessibar's online home page hosted on Mozilla's development site, Options, and About dialog.

 

4.2  Options Configuration

Selecting Options from Accessibar's main menu will open the following Option's Dialog:


Image of Options Dialog Window

Figure 8: Options Dialog Window


To the left of the dialog window a list of the available option categories appear. Currently users can configure hotkey (keyboard shortcut) settings as well as reader settings. The hotkey (keyboard shortcut) settings options page will be displayed on the right part of the options dialog window when the window is first loaded. The reader settings page can be navigated to by selecting Reader on the Category list.


4.2.1  Hotkey (Keyboard Shortcut) Settings

All of Accessibar's main functionality features can be configured to being evoked using hotkeys of the user's choice. The hotkey preferences are stored in the user's home directory and therefore will be individual to all users that use the application on the same computer. All changes made to hotkey settings will take effect only after the browser is restarted.

4.2.2  Reader Settings

The Reader Settings Options page will display in the Options dialog window when selected on the category list to the left displaying the following page:


Image of Reader Settings Page Displayed in Options Dialog Window

Figure 9: Reader Settings Page Displayed in Options Dialog Window


From this page, user's can select the voice of their choice. Currently Accessibar provides two voices to choose from (Kevin16 and Kevin). Kevin16 is a medium quality, 16 kHz voice and Kevin is a lesser quality 8 kHz voice. In addition to voice selection users can also control the voice's volume, speaking rate (speed), pitch and range. A Restore Defaults button is also provided which when selected will restore voice settings to their default values. If wished the user can also choose to have the Text To Speech reader turned on when the browser starts up by checking the "Turn Reader ON when starting browser" option.

4.3  Changing Background and Foreground Colors

Background and foreground (text) colors can be changed by selecting BG Color or Text Color from the Accessibar menu respectively and selecting the preferred color from the color picker element. The selected colors will persist to all subsequent web pages navigated to.


Image of Changing the Background Color (Text Color Changed Similarly)

Figure 10: Changing the Background Color (Text Color Changed Similarly)


4.4  Increasing and Decreasing Font Size

Font size can be increased and decreased by selecting the "increase font size button" and "decrease font size button" buttons on the toolbar (or through the keyboard shortcut hotkey configured in the options dialog).


Image of Increasing Font Size

Figure 11: Increasing Font Size


4.5  Increasing and Decreasing Line Spacing

Line spacing can be increased or decreased by selecting the "increase line spacing button" and "decrease line spacing button" icons adjacent to the increase/decrease font size icons (or through the configured shortcut hotkeys).

4.6  Hiding and Showing Graphics

All images displayed on the web page can be selected to be hidden by selecting Hide Graphics from the toolbar (or through the shortcut hotkeys). This will cause the Show Graphics button to be enabled allowing graphics to be displayed once again on the web page.

4.7  Restore Page

Since the visual changes that are carried out on the displayed web page will persist (by being reapplied to subsequent pages), users can choose to restore the pages original settings by selecting the Restore Page button from the toolbar.

4.8  Using Accessibar's Text To Speech Reader

Selecting Read Aloud from the toolbar will open up a drop down menu with radio buttons which allow the reader's state to be set to "Reader On" or "Reader Off" as can be seen in the following figure:


Image of Accessibar's Text To Speech Reader


Figure 12: Accessibar's Text To Speech Reader


After selecting Reader On, Accessibar will load the Java Virtual Machine which is needed to carry out this functionality. Once the JVM is fully loaded and the Reader service is up and running, the Reader will read out text on the web page as well as the browser's user interface elements when the mouse pointer hovers over an element. Focus events will also be read out loud so that users navigating through focusable elements (such as links) will also be able to hear these elements read out loud while tabbing though them using the keyboard.



1 Described at Sun's site at the following links: http://java.sun.com/developer/technicalArticles/releases/generics/ and most recently:

http://java.sun.com/developer/technicalArticles/J2SE/generics/

2 IzPack is an open-source installer generator for the Java platform. Homepage: http://www.izforge.com/izpack

3 The Hotkey term is defined at Mozilla's accessibility site at the following link: http://www.mozilla.org/access/keyboard/#definitions

4 This is also defined on Mozilla's accessibility site as: "a piece of data that defines the connect[ion] between a keystroke and a command".