Audacity for blind users

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This page contains information for blind or visually impaired users of Audacity.
We strongly recommend the visually impaired to use the current release of Audacity and keep it updated. The latest version will always have the best screen reader and keyboard accessibility.
Warning icon Unfortunately, for users of VoiceOver the accessibility and usability of current Audacity are limited.

However, a more usable version of Audacity is the Screen reader version of Audacity 2.1.1, which is available to download on our Mac downloads page, though unfortunately this version is not compatible with macOS Mojave or later. The name of this version is "2.1.1-screen-reader". It is hoped that future versions of Audacity will be more accessible for users of VoiceOver.

A very important feature of Audacity is the ability to fully manipulate the selection using the keyboard.

Screen reader access works very well on Windows. Mac screen reader support now requires considerable adjustment following a transition to wxWidgets 3, but a 2.1.1 accessible build is available on our Mac downloads page. Screen reader support still needs further development on Linux.

Please read the Accessibility page in the Manual for full information about Audacity's keyboard and screen reader accessibility.

Please read the "Free Screen Readers" section below for links to free screen readers.

Documentation and mailing lists

Further help is at hand if you need it.

To subscribe to the list:
  1. Go to https://www.freelists.org/list/audacity4blind.
  2. Enter your email address into the "your email address" edit box.
  3. Tab to and check the check box to indicate that you aren't a robot.
  4. Tab to the Next button and press it. You will receive an email to confirm the subscription.
  5. In that email, open the link to confirm your email address. A web page opens in which you have to agree to various terms.
  6. There are three check boxes which have to be checked, and finally a Next button to press.
  • A Guide to using Audacity 3.0.3 and 3.0.4 for users of Jaws, NVDA, and Narrator, by David Bailes. It includes tips for navigating Audacity without the mouse which should be helpful to users on all operating systems.

Tips for blind users

Free Screen Readers

  • NVDA for Windows. This works well with Audacity.
  • Narrator for Windows 10. This works well with Audacity.
  • VoiceOver built-in screen reader for Mac.
  • Orca for Linux/Unix. As of GNOME 2.16, Orca is a part of the GNOME platform, so is already provided by default on a number of operating system distributions, including Open Solaris, Fedora and Ubuntu. It does not work with the KDE environment. Orca works moderately well with Audacity, including reading most of the toolbar controls, but does not read TimeText controls (spinbox digits). Orca does not indicate track focus or selectedness.