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P2: Must be release noted.  RM decides if it blocks releaseMoonphase bug (difficult to repeat)


Bug 33: Summary: Accessibility issuesDetails | Edit

Summary Points

Accessibility issues range from missing strings for screen readers to interface design that requires mouse clicks to be used at all. Some issues are specific to specific screen readers. The move to wx3 introduced a whole range of new accessibility bugs, and much reduced the usability of Audacity on mac for VI users.

The Bug Cluster

IDPStatusSummary (41 tasks) ID
740P1RESOLVEDVST textual interface has no labels, causes crash740
1432P2RESOLVEDMac: Undocking Toolbars removes track focus, and drag or resize of undocked toolbars removes the control's focus border1432
777P2RESOLVEDSelections made with Selection Toolbar are not restored after Undo777
1656P2RESOLVED(Windows) Disabled Edit Toolbar buttons not skipped for navigation1656
1299P2RESOLVEDTrack loses focus after applying a Chain to the project.1299
1630P2RESOLVEDAccessibility of the length/end radio buttons1630
686P2RESOLVEDReverb: Access keys missing686
1391P2RESOLVEDAudio track loses focus on stop1391
1247P3NEWLinux: TAB does not stay in its own tooldock/moving to and from tracks does not access upper tooldock1247
1529P3NEWLinux: Access keys do not work except for most checkboxes/radio buttons1529
853P3NEWLinux: Orca: Many plugin labels not read853
726P3NEWMac: VoiceOver: Tracks not read after exporting726
1245P3NEWWindows: NVDA screen reader not speaking typed characters1245
1471?P3NEWMac: RTP effects lose focus (and may, but only may, go behind project window after being applied)1471
1256P3NEWLinux: Orca: Keyboard Preferences bindings list not read1256
727P3NEWLinux: Orca: Tracks not read727
1417P3REOPENEDLinux: Shortcut to move backward and forward from toolbars to tracks does not cycle correctly1417
883P3RESOLVEDContrast: "Move forward or backward thru active windows" does not refocus Contrast.883
891P3RESOLVEDNumber-entering bug in kHz High Frequencies. Unfriendly to have to enter High first if new Low is above High.891
1254P3RESOLVEDCurrent label focus lost when closing Label Editor1254
682P3RESOLVEDLinux: Keyboard Preferences: focus trapped in Search box682
895P3RESOLVEDUnable to select high pass or low pass with Spectral Selection Toolbar895
569P3RESOLVEDJAWS misreads Draw curves and Graphic EQ radio buttons.569
1072P3RESOLVEDApplying Retinizer to Audacity makes the export format choice unusable.1072
868P3RESOLVEDLinux Xfce: Can't move forward through modeless windows. GNOME and Xfce: navigation trapped in undocked toolbars868
576P3RESOLVEDPreferences: mnemonics character ('&') read out by screen readers576
736P3RESOLVEDLinux: Audacity HEAD shows almost no shortcuts in menus using Unity736
884P3RESOLVEDPlot Spectrum: Can't change values without losing focus.884
759P3RESOLVEDSPACE cannot be used/may crash in context menus that have a checkbox.759
1252P3RESOLVEDMac OS X: Cycling between track and tooldocks gets trapped, especially in Project Rate.1252
636P3RESOLVEDENTER/Return do not toggle selectedness of label track unless a label is selected636
892P3RESOLVEDSpectral Selection Toolbar forces selection below half the project rate892
1048P3RESOLVEDSpectral Selection Toolbar cannot set an undefined frequency.1048
1193P3RESOLVEDTimeline text too large/lower tooldock text far too small.1193
577P4RESOLVEDNVDA/Narrator screen readers do not read static text in dialogs577
613P4RESOLVEDMenu key deselects track613
586P4RESOLVEDWindows: Preferences: mnemonics character ('&') in buttons present in accessibility API/read by some readers586
778P4RESOLVEDSummary: Windows: NVDA Accessibility Issues (in wx3)778
510P4RESOLVEDundo can change which tracks are selected, and focus510
575P4RESOLVEDJaws doesn't read radio buttons or checkbox in import warning dialog575
867P5NEWMac: VST and some AU plug-ins do not allow "moving through active windows" with shortcuts when in graphic mode867


  • Many, but not all parts of the Audacity interface are accessible on Windows and Mac (read the alert above about Mac) to those who can't use a mouse, and/or use a screen reader. It may be possible to make more of Audacity accessible in the longer term. For details, see https://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/accessibility.html
  • There are some accessibility bugs in the parts of Audacity that are accessible (or behavior may vary according to the specific screen reader).
    • Toolbars that show disabled at View > Toolbars and are then re-enabled will launch undocked if Audacity has already been restarted. Workaround: perform View > Toolbars > Reset Toolbars before enabling any disabled toolbars.
    • After mouse down to drag a docked toolbar to a new docked or undocked position, the track focus is removed and the selected control loses its focus border even though that toolbar still has focus. When dragging or resizing an already undocked toolbar, the selected control similarly loses its focus border.
    • Some interface text or markings remain in black when using High Contrast light-on-dark themes, so cannot be viewed properly. However you can now choose a light-on-dark "Hi Contrast" theme for Audacity in Interface Preferences.
    • shortcuts for Up, Down, Left, Right, Return and NUMPAD ENTER
    • Selection Toolbar: The End/Length buttons do not have a dotted rectangle to indicate when they have focus, and keyboard arrow keys no longer move between the buttons. The names of the buttons are either not read by screen readers or the position of both options is incorrectly read as 1 of 1.
    • Keyboard Preferences: Window-Eyes doesn't read the key bindings when View by Tree is selected, and may not always read the bindings in other views. VoiceOver and Orca do not read the key bindings at all. You could export the bindings, modify them in a text editor then import the modified list.
    • Spectral Selection Toolbar:
      • You can't enter a new low frequency first if it is above the current high frequency - in that case, you must enter the new high frequency first.
      • If you change low and high frequencies to kHz, then typing or incrementing values in the High Frequencies box has unpredictable results.
    • It is not possible to use the keyboard to move the cursor or selection region to an arbitrary position when playing or recording. However you can use the [ or ] shortcuts respectively to set the left or right boundary of the selection at the playback or recording position ( https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/edit_menu_select.html#left ). Different Scrubbing modes may also be started using shortcuts or the Transport Menu, but there is no keyboard interface yet to control scrubbing. Scrubbing may be started by shortcut even if the pointer is in the waveform, although the Status Bar messages don't refer to moving the pointer to Scrub.
    • (Windows):
      • Edit toolbar buttons that depend on selection are (at least in NVDA) announced as Disabled when there is no selection, rather than being skipped over. Hitting ENTER on such a disabled button will auto-select the audio, applying the edit to all of that automatic selection.
      • In certain parts of the main window, NVDA does not speak typed characters (JAWS and Window-Eyes are not affected):
      • In the main window, not speaking a character if it is a command for example, j,k,[ or ]
      • In a label track, not speaking characters typed into a label.
    • (OS X/macOS):
      • Audacity is not yet fully Retina-ready. It is known that the Track Control Panel appears fuzzy. Please let us know of any other issues. Retinizer can no longer be applied to Audacity. If Retinizer is applied to previous Audacity this will prevent the export format being changed.
      • Selection is not in the first control of Generators, Effects or Analyzers. In most effects the selection is invisible and one TAB puts selection in the Manage Button. In Change Speed the selection is "Current Length" and in Change Pitch the selection is the first octave.
      • If you apply a real-time preview effect while focus has remained in Audacity, the effect loses focus. If you apply a real-time preview effect after task switching away from and back to Audacity, the effect will go behind the project window. The effect may be brought back to focus in both cases with ALT + F6.
      • It is not possible to move between the main Audacity window and some VST and Audio Unit effects using the ALT + F6 or ALT + SHIFT + F6 shortcuts when the effect is in Graphical Mode. You can use the "Manage" menu then Options... to change the effect to textual mode.
    • (OS X/macOS) Issues with VoiceOver:
    Warning icon Unfortunately, current Audacity is not accessible for users of VoiceOver for the reasons given below. This was also the case for releases starting from Audacity 2.1.1. However, an accessible version of Audacity 2.1.1 is available on our Mac OS X downloads page. The name of this accessible version is "2.1.1-screen-reader" (DMG and ZIP downloads are available). It is hoped that future versions of Audacity will be accessible for users of VoiceOver.
      • (reported on OS X 10.9.x) After exporting, the black accessibility area is trapped in the Tooldock area, so there is no way to read the tracks. Workaround: Save as a project, close the project then reopen it. You can then navigate the tracks with VoiceOver.
      • If you use arrow keys to navigate the Timetext controls in Selection Toolbar, VoiceOver stops reading. Workaround: Use Control-Option-W
      • When you TAB forwards from "Audio Position" in Selection Toolbar, the "Selection End" or "Selection Length" radio button is read as "Selection Start". When you use COMMAND + F6 or COMMAND + SHIFT + F6 to move directly into "Selection End" from another toolbar, the button is read as "Selection Start".
      • Mixer Toolbar input/output sliders are not read, but just described as "multiple indicators". The "Graphic EQ" and vertical sliders in Equalization *are* read.
      • Metadata Editor table not read.
      • Edit Labels dialog not read.
      • In the "Edit Chains" window, only the first command in the "Chain" list is read, and it is only read when first accessed. In the "Select Command" window for inserting a new command in a Chain, commands in the table are not read.
      • "Manage Curves" table in Equalization not read.
          • Edit Cursor in High Contrast Theme is very hard to see due to its color being the same as the background. It is only visible where it crosses the waveform. Recommend to use a different theme when editing until this is fixed.
      • (Linux Ubuntu) Under Unity, keyboard shortcuts are not visible in the Audacity menus. Keyboard shortcuts are visible if you install the classic GNOME Flashback interface or under Unity if you open Audacity from the termimal with
        env UBUNTU_MENUPROXY=0 audacity

        Audacity will now ship with src/audacity.desktop.in set to UBUNTU_MENUPROXY=0 so Audacity compiled from source will show shortcuts in the menus and will have its own menu bar in the application. It will remain up to Ubuntu whether they use this desktop file in packaged versions of Audacity.

      • Access keys mostly do not work except for radio buttons and checkboxes.
      • (Linux with Xfce desktop) It is not possible to move forward through modeless windows, undocked Toolbars and the main project window using ALT + F6. You may move backward using ALT + SHIFT + F6, but focus may get trapped in windows or undocked toolbars.
      • (Linux) It is not possible to TAB through the search box in Keyboard Preferences. However, as long as the "Tree" or "Name" button is selected, you can use DOWN arrow to move out of the Search box into the list, then TAB into the lower controls.
      • (Linux) Playing or recording then stopping causes the currently focused track or tooldock area to lose focus. Some shortcuts for example those for Tools Toolbar will then not work until focus is restored. Workaround: To restore focus, deliver a mouse click in the interface or create a shortcut for Reset Toolbars and use that shortcut.
      • (Linux) TAB unexpectedly navigates out of the current tooldock area instead of staying inside it, and CTRL + F6 from Selection Toolbar and SHIFT + CTRL + F6 from the Tracks table do not navigate to the upper tooldock area but leave focus in the previous toolbar. However you can use the TAB navigation behavior described above to access the upper tooldock area.
      • (Linux) The shortcut to "Move backward from toolbars to tracks" does not cycle from the audio track to upper tooldock, only to Selection Toolbar. The shortcut to "Move forward from toolbars to tracks" does not cycle from Selection Toolbar to upper tooldock, only to the audio track.
    • (Linux) Issues with Orca:
      • Audacity tracks are not read.
      • Not all toolbar controls are read, examples being Timetext controls, Project Rate and controls in Device Toolbar.
      • Not all controls in Preferences are read.
      • Control labels for VAMP and VST plugins are not read.
      • Control labels for Nyquist plugins are read inconsistently in older version 3 or earlier plugins (Version 4 seems to read more consistently).