Orca

Orca is the primary screen reader technology on the Linux platform, primarily used by those who are blind.

Related terms

Illustration: A laptop sits on a table in a café, with the bar counter and espresso machine in the background. The laptop screen displays the Orca logo of an orca whale holding a guide cane.
Illustration: A laptop sits on a table in a café, with the bar counter and espresso machine in the background. The laptop screen displays the Orca logo of an orca whale holding a guide cane.

Long definition

Orca is the screen reader included with the GNOME desktop environment on the Linux operating system. It comes included with most distributions that include GNOME, including Debian, Ubuntu, Arch, and others. However, unlike Windows and OSX, Linux cannot yet easily start the screen reader while installing the operating system. With this limitation, itÕs difficult for those who are blind to set-up independently.

Orca was originally developed by Sun Microsystems as part of the GNOME desktop environment. However, after Oracle purchased Sun Microsystems, the development transitioned to a volunteer model without extensive corporate support. This lack of support and funding, both for Orca itself and accessibility APIs in the wider Linux graphic user interface (GUI) environment, means that accessibility on Linux can frequently lag behind Windows and OSX. For this reason, blind Linux users frequently prefer using the command line instead of a graphical desktop. As Linux administration is frequently done from the command line anyway, many blind Linux users argue that the lack of support for graphical desktops doesnÕt matter as the command line will always be more efficient for them.

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