Accessibility in Qt 5.3

Published Wednesday May 14th, 2014 | by

The Qt community is welcoming and inclusive. With Qt we aim to enable everyone, no matter their background, to access and use the technology. From building applications with Qt, to being a user, we want to support everyone. Universal design and accessibility are important to us as a project and for Qt as product. In Qt 5.2 the accessibility framework saw big improvements and became public API again, allowing application writers to make custom widgets accessible. Qt 5.3 is an even more exciting release when it comes to accessibility. Thanks to great feedback, we finally have our Mac implementation greatly improved; using Qt applications with Mac OS X’s screen reader VoiceOver is now a lot more responsive. In addition to a huge performance boost, we implemented notifications, so that VoiceOver users are able to use the text editing widgets with proper feedback. With Qt 5.3.0 almost released, we are continuing to work on small but important fixes in Qt 5.3.1 which already make the Mac experience even smoother. We have also ironed out some inconsistencies on the other platforms, such as making the reading of menus more reliable on Windows. A big thank you to those giving feedback, especially Vincenzo and Steve!

VoiceOver reading QTextEdit


For Qt 5.4 there are already a few fixes lined up. Most notably we moved away from plugins for the QWidget and Qt Quick accessible interfaces. For deployment of Qt, this means accessibility out of the box, whereas before, deploying the plugins was required and often forgotten. The main focus of the accessibility team will be on the mobile platforms for the near future. The team in Oslo just started a cooperation with Norsk Regnesentral to research how to build accessible apps, adhering to universal design principles with cross-platform development in mind. The project aims to include more people with experience in accessibility issues that can give feedback and help us understand which improvements are needed most. Since we do not currently have any developers using assistive technology – except for testing – we need help fine-tuning the information we provide to the accessibility frameworks on the different platforms.

Accessibility in Qt has reached a new level, and we are looking forward to getting more feedback with regards to what still needs improvement. We’d like to ask people to get involved to help us make the experience of Qt applications for people that use assistive technology as smooth as possible. If you happen to be in Oslo, we’d be more than happy to meet up. We are looking for people with experience in assistive technologies (as users or otherwise) to help us improve the state of accessibility even more. If you are interested in accessibility, encounter problems or would like to help out, sign up to the new Qt accessibility mailing list.

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Posted in Accessibility, Android, desktop, iOS, Qt

3 comments to Accessibility in Qt 5.3

Ian says:

Great work Frederik. :)

I deploy the accessibility plugins! Thought TBH I’m not sure how accessible my application is, probably not so much since its currently a mix of QWidget and QtQuick 2. I should give these things a try after we switch the rest to QtQuick.

Frederik Gladhorn says:

Hi Ian,
for QWidgets the accessibility usually works pretty well out of the box. For Qt Quick it depends a bit, if you are using Qt Quick Controls everything works out of the box, but for custom controls you’ll have to set a few properties to make them accessible. The basics are described in http://qt-project.org/doc/qt-5/qml-qtquick-accessible.html
As part of the project we’ll also improve the documentation. The best way is to get feedback from users that need accessibility. Of course testing with a screen reader is also a good idea to verify the basics.

Donald Carr says:

I am a very happy camper to see this receive love. I did the Windows/Mac a11y stuff for a chat client using Qt in ~2008, and although we managed to ship, seeing the state of a11y and the work involved, anything Qt can do to ease this development effort (which is mandatory for people targeting universities) will be appreciated and provide another cool form of abstraction we could benefit from.

Yetch, I hope the underlying mechanisms have improved. Jaws and its supporting scripts were a bit of a nightmare and only Mac seemed to be nice to impaired people. I have never eaten what Linux serves :)

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