Orca Screen Reader
...a free, open source, flexible, and extensible screen reader that provides access to the graphical desktop via user-customizable combinations of speech and/or braille. Orca works with applications and toolkits that support the assistive technology service provider interface (AT-SPI), which is the primary assistive technology infrastructure for the Solaris and Linux operating environments.
This documentation has been written by a sighted developer without the input of a blind person for testing purposes. Therefore some written advice might be incorrect, such as instructions concerning the use of
At the time of writing (21 February 2021), the Orca screen reader is not installed in the Whonix ™ stable (default) release. Testers must install Whonix ™
- https://download.whonix.org/ova/126.96.36.199.4/Whonix-XFCE-188.8.131.52.4.ova [archive]
- https://download.whonix.org/ova/184.108.40.206.4/Whonix-XFCE-220.127.116.11.4.ova.asc [archive]
Orca (or any other) screenreader must already be functional on the host operating system. This is unrelated to Whonix ™ and outside the scope of this documentation. The user should be familiar and comfortable with the host screenreader.
It is also recommended to learn VirtualBox basics outside of any reference to Whonix ™; that is, using VirtualBox with any other operating system. Otherwise, any blind users simultaneously utilizing VirtualBox and Whonix ™ for the first time might face serious challenges.
These instructions have not tested whether the VirtualBox host user interface is itself accessible; this functionality is out of scope.
Orca was only recently integrated into Whonix ™, therefore support for using Orca in combination with Tor Bridges is not perfect yet -- please post a feature request if that is desirable. Bridge users should refer to the footnote for a workaround. 
The Orca screen reader is tested as functional in the following applications (non-exhaustive list):
- Xfce start menu
- Xfce application finder
- Tor Browser
There are several limitations at present:
setup-wizard-dist(GUI) does not work. Use
setup-distCLI on the command line instead. 
- Anon Connection Wizard does not work. This is normally not an issue for public Tor network users, but those requiring bridges could configure these on the command line as documented on the Bridges page.
systemcheckGUI (previously called
whonixcheck) does not work. Use
systemcheckCLI on the command line instead.  See also: systemcheck.
- Repository Dist Wizard (GUI) does not work. If needed, use
repository-dist(CLI) instead as documented here.
setup-dist-noninteractive is a tool to non-interactively use
setup-dist. Menu option
1 enables Tor which results in accessing the public Tor network unless the user previously manually configured Bridges.
If required, run this command on both Whonix-Gateway ™ and Whonix-Workstation ™ only.
dsudo setup-dist-noninteractive 1
The following package dependencies are installed:
libatk-adaptor libgail-common- required for Xfce settings menu screen reader support
non-qubes-audio- required for adding audio support to Whonix-Gateway ™
gstreamer1.0-plugins-good- missing dependency in Debian buster [archive]
speech-dispatcher-espeak-ng- required for
sound-icons- this package might be optional
As at April 2021 the following issues are unresolved:
- run orca as systemd user service / shutdown takes a long time with orca enabled [archive].  Worked around using
orca-kill-at-shutdown.servicesystemd service. 
- --debug (or new option) write to console (stdout (and/or stderr)) [archive]
The following issues have been resolved:
- issues on Kicksecure ™ host: orca not starting - TIMEOUT: something has hung. Aborting. [archive]
- orca --replace should not kill script which is starting it [archive]
- ctrl + c does not terminate orca - AttributeError: module 'signal' has no attribute 'strsignal' [archive]
dsudoallows commands to be run as root without entering a password, so long as the default password has not been changed.
- First disable the host internet connection and follow these steps:
Reconnect host internet connection→
Make sure host internet connection is functional→
Restart Tor or reboot Whonix ™ if not connected yet.
It could not be named easyorca for technical reasons; avoiding the letter y inside
easocircumvents issues relating to English versus German keyboard layouts. See: orca --replace should not kill script which is starting it [archive].
By running command
amixer set Master 50%.
50%was arbitrarily chosen and is hopefully not too quiet / noisy. It can be regulated using the host operating system or physical speaker volume control.
- https://gitlab.com/whonix/usability-misc/-/blob/master/usr/sbin/orca-enable-autostart [archive]
- https://gitlab.com/whonix/usability-misc/-/blob/master/lib/systemd/system/orca-kill-at-shutdown.service [archive]
1. https://gitlab.com/whonix/setup-dist/-/blob/master/usr/sbin/setup-dist-noninteractive [archive]
sudo setup-distin a terminal.
systemcheckin a terminal.
- This command uses
sudobecause commands can be run as root without entering a password, so long as the default password has not been changed. For blind users this is likely far simpler than using
sudoand typing the password, especially during the initial setup. See: dsudo for further information.
- https://gitlab.gnome.org/GNOME/orca/-/issues/188#note_1027211 [archive]