Install Arch Linux with accessibility options

From ArchWiki

The official Arch Linux installation medium supports various Accessibility features:

This document describes how to install Arch Linux using these features.

Note: This page describes only steps which are different from the Installation guide.


Boot the live environment

Note: The bootloaders on the installation medium have a timeout of 15 seconds before they start the default menu item.

When the installation medium starts booting, press Down followed by Enter to boot with speech enabled.

USB braille displays should be detected automatically via udev.

Multiple sound cards

If your computer has several sound cards, you will hear the following message: Please select your sound card for speech output.

When you hear a beep on the output that you would like to use, press Enter to select the card.

Change speech language

To change the espeak-ng language/voice used by espeakup.service, edit the unit so that the language code is appended to default_voice= in the Environment= directive.

You can also change the espeak-ng voice variant by appending +variant to the language code. See espeakup(8) and espeak-ng(1) for more information.


Install essential packages

For speech support in the installed system, you need espeakup and alsa-utils. If you use a braille display, install the brltty package.

Append the required packages to the pacstrap(8) call when installing:

# pacstrap -K /mnt base linux linux-firmware espeakup alsa-utils

Configure the system

Sound card

If #Multiple sound cards were detected, copy the /etc/asound.conf file, which has been generated in the installation medium:

# cp /etc/asound.conf /mnt/etc/

Enable the services

To have speech support after booting into the installed system you need to enable espeakup.service. See also #Change speech language.


After booting into the newly installed system it should start speaking automatically.


This article or section is a candidate for merging with Accessibility.

Notes: The listed issues are out of scope of the Arch installation process. (Discuss in Talk:Install Arch Linux with accessibility options)

Most graphical applications should work out of the box, such as Gtk-, Qt- or Gecko-based ones. You can verify the functionality by running accerciser. The application of choice should appear and have a deeply nested tree structure of children. Issues may arise if:

  • You haven't enabled the assistive technologies setting for your distribution. There's usually a single checkbox somewhere to be found to enable it. After enabling, you need to reboot.
  • The application is Chromium- or Electron-based. These programs typically need both the Environment variable ACCESSIBILITY_ENABLED=1, and an additional argument --force-renderer-accessibility when launching. For Chrome you can replace the latter step with enabling the accessibility options inside chrome://accessibility, however this seems to not persist after restart.
  • The application is Java-based. In this case, you need to install the ATK bridge java-atk-wrapper-openjdk8 (depending on your Java version)
  • In the rare case that the application is an exotic, old application built with Qt4, such as some programs that haven't been maintained since 2015, you need to install qt-at-spi
  • As a last resort, any of these other environment variables may help: GTK_MODULES=gail:atk-bridge, OOO_FORCE_DESKTOP=gnome, GNOME_ACCESSIBILITY=1, QT_ACCESSIBILITY=1, QT_LINUX_ACCESSIBILITY_ALWAYS_ON=1