OSARA: Open Source Accessibility for the REAPER Application

OSARA is a REAPER extension which aims to make REAPER accessible to screen reader users. It was heavily inspired by and based on the concepts of the ReaAccess extension, but was created as a potential replacement because ReaAccess seems to have been abandoned and was not developed openly. It runs on both Windows and Mac, though it is currently very experimental on Mac ad is not yet fully functional.

Features:

Requirements

OSARA requires REAPER 5.92 or later. The SWS/S&M EXTENSION is highly recommended and OSARA supports several useful actions from this extension.

It has only been tested with the NVDA and VoiceOver screen readers. However, on Windows, OSARA uses Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA) to communicate information, so it should work with any screen reader which supports this correctly.

Download and Installation

You can download the latest OSARA installer from the OSARA Development Snapshots page.

Windows

Once you have downloaded the installer, simply run it and follow the instructions.

Note that if you previously copied the OSARA extension into REAPER's program directory manually (before the installer became available), you must remove this first. The installer installs the extension into your user configuration, not the program directory.

By default, the OSARA key map will be installed, completely replacing your existing key map. If you do not wish this to occur, you can uncheck the "Replace existing key map with OSARA key map" option.

Mac

Because OSARA is an extension (not a standalone application) and also needs to install a key map, the installation process is a little different to most Mac applications. Please follow these instructions to install it:

  1. Open the OSARA disk image file you downloaded.
  2. Open the "Install OSARA extension.command" file. This will open a terminal window. Wait a few seconds and then press command+q to close the terminal window.
  3. If you wish to replace your existing key map with the OSARA key map (which is recommended), open the "Replace existing key map with OSARA key map.command" file. This will open another terminal window. Wait a few seconds and then press command+q to close the terminal window.
  4. Press command+e to eject the disk image.

Key Map

Even if you chose not to replace your existing key map with the OSARA key map, the OSARA key map will be copied into your REAPER "KeyMaps" folder so you can import it manually from the Actions dialog later if you wish. This is particularly useful if you wish to merge the key map with your existing key map, rather than replacing it. Note that any keyboard commands described in this document assume you are using the OSARA key map.

For users who previously used ReaAccess, the OSARA key map is similar to that provided by ReaAccess, though there are some differences. You can see the full key map by selecting Key bindings and mouse modifiers from the Help menu.

Additional Documentation

The sections below document all functionality specific to OSARA. However, they do not attempt to explain how a screen reader user can best understand and use REAPER. REAPER is a fairly complex application and most of the existing documentation is very much targeted at sighted users. For more complete, in-depth documentation and guides on using REAPER with OSARA, please consult the REAPER Accessibility Wiki.

Usage

Supported REAPER and Extension Actions

OSARA supports reporting of information for the following actions. Most of these are actions built into REAPER, but a few are very useful actions from the SWS extension.

Track Navigation/Management

Adjusting Track Parameters

Edit Cursor Movement

Items

Takes

Markers and Regions

Time Signature/Tempo Markers

Envelopes

Zoom

Options

Undo

Transport

Selection

Clipboard

View

Grid

MIDI Editor

Context Menus

There are several context menus in REAPER, but some of them are difficult to access or not accessible at all from the keyboard. OSARA enables keyboard access for the track input, track area, track routing, item, ruler, envelope point and automation item context menus.

To open the context menu for the element you are working with, press the applications key on Windows or Control+1 on Mac. For example, if you have just moved to a track, it will open the track input context menu for that track. If you have just moved the edit cursor, it will open the context menu for the ruler.

For tracks, there are three context menus:

  1. Track input: Allows you to set the input to use when recording, etc. You access this by just pressing the applications key on Windows or Control+1 on Mac.
  2. Track area: Provides options for inserting, duplicating and removing tracks, etc. You access this by pressing control+applications on Windows or Control+2 on Mac.
  3. Routing: Allows you to quickly add and remove sends, receives and outputs without opening the I/O window. You access this by pressing alt+applications on Windows or Control+3 on Mac.

Parameter Lists

OSARA can display a list of parameters for various elements such as tracks, items and effects. You can then check and change the values of these parameters. This is useful for parameters which are tedious or impossible to access otherwise.

Track/Item Parameters

To access the parameter list for a track or an item, select the track or item you wish to work with. Then, press control+shift+p (OSARA: View parameters for current track/item).

FX Parameters

Many effects are unfortunately either partially or completely inaccessible. However, most effects make their parameters available for automation in a standard way. This can also be used to make them at least partially accessible. Thus, the FX parameter list is particular useful and is the only way to access some effects.

To access it:

  1. Select a track or item with at least one effect. Then, press p (OSARA: View FX parameters for current track/take).
  2. Alternatively, to access FX parameters for the master track, press shift+p (OSARA: View FX parameters for master track).
  3. If there is more than one effect on the track, select the desired effect from the menu. If there are input or monitoring FX on the track, these will be included in the menu as well with an appropriate suffix.

Note that only some effects expose easily readable values, while others expose only percentages. Even for effects that do expose easily readable values, the editable text is an internal number and probably won't correspond to the readable value on the slider.

Using Parameter Lists

Once you have opened a parameter list dialog, you can select a parameter from the Parameter combo box and check or adjust its value using the Value slider. For parameters which support it, there is also an editable text field which allows you to edit the value textually.

The Filter field allows you to narrow the list to only contain parameters which include the entered text. For example, if the full list contained "Volume" and "Pan" parameters and you type "vol" in the Filter field, the list will be narrowed to only show "Volume". Clearing the text in the Filter field shows the entire list.

When you are done working with parameters, press the Close button. Alternatively, you can press enter or escape.

Reading Current Peaks

OSARA allows you to read the current audio peak for channels 1 and 2 of either the current or master tracks. You do this using the following actions:

Peak Watcher

In addition to reading current peaks, You can also be notified automatically when the volume exceeds a specified maximum level using Peak Watcher. This can be done for one or two tracks.

To use Peak Watcher:

  1. Press control+shift+w (OSARA: View Peak Watcher).
  2. From the First track combo box, select one of the following:
  3. None: Select this if you do not wish to monitor a track.
  4. Follow current track: Select this if you want to watch peaks for whatever track you move to in your project.
  5. Master: This watches peaks for the master track.
  6. Otherwise, you can choose any track in your project.
  7. If you wish to monitor a second track, you can choose another track from the Second track combo box.
  8. If you want to be notified when the level of channels exceeds a certain level, in the "Notify automatically for channels:" grouping, check the options for the desired channels and enter the desired level (in dB).
  9. The Hold peaks grouping allows you to specify whether the highest peak remains as the reported peak level and for how long. Holding peaks gives you time to examine the peak level, even if the audio level dropped immediately after the peak occurred. There are three options:
  10. disabled: Don't hold peaks at all.
  11. until reset: Hold peaks until the Peak Watcher is reset.
  12. for (ms): Allows you to specify a time in milliseconds for which peaks will be held.
  13. Press the Reset button to reset the reported peak levels if they are being held.
  14. When you are done, press the OK button to accept any changes or the Cancel button to discard them.

At any time, you can report or reset the peak levels for either of the tracks being watched using the following actions:

Shortcut Help

It is possible to have REAPER list all shortcuts and to search for individual shortcuts in the Action List. However, it is sometimes convenient to be able to simply press a shortcut and immediately learn what action it will perform. This is especially useful if you have forgotten an exact shortcut but do have some idea of what it might be. You can achieve this using OSARA's shortcut help mode.

You can turn shortcut help on and off by pressing f12 (OSARA: Toggle shortcut help). While shortcut help is enabled, pressing any shortcut will report the action associated with that shortcut, but the action itself will not be run.

Noncontiguous Selection

Usually, selection is done contiguously; e.g. you might select tracks 1 through 4. Sometimes, it is desirable to select noncontiguously; e.g. you might want to select tracks 1, 3 and 5.

You can do this as follows:

  1. Move to the track or item you want to start with.
  2. Optionally, select some other contiguous tracks or items.
  3. Press shift+space (OSARA: Enable noncontiguous selection/toggle selection of current track/item) to switch to noncontiguous selection.
  4. Move through tracks/items leaving other tracks/items selected; e.g. using shift+downArrow and shift+upArrow to move through tracks. These tracks/items will not be selected, but any previously selected tracks/items will remain selected.
  5. When you reach a track/item you want to select, press shift+space (OSARA: Enable noncontiguous selection/toggle selection of current track/item). You can also use this if you want to unselect a previously selected track/item.

Selection will revert to contiguous selection the next time you move to a track/item without leaving other tracks/items selected.

If you want to select noncontiguous items on several different tracks, the procedure is exactly the same. However, it's important to remember that you must move between tracks without affecting the selection; i.e. using shift+downArrow and shift+upArrow. Otherwise, selection will revert to contiguous selection.

Accessing Controls for Sends/Receives/Outputs in the Track I/O Window

In the Track I/O window, there are various controls for each send, receive or hardware output. Unfortunately, these controls cannot be reached with the tab key and it is tedious at best to access these with screen reader review functions.

When you tab to the Delete button for a send/receive/output, the name of the send/receive/output will first be reported. You can then press the Applications key to access a menu of additional options.

Manually Moving Stretch Markers

REAPER includes actions to snap stretch markers to the grid. However, sometimes, this is not sufficient and it is useful to be able to manually move stretch markers to a specific position.

To do this:

  1. Select the desired item.
  2. Go to a stretch marker; e.g. using shift+apostrophe (Item: go to next stretch marker). Ensure that OSARA reports the stretch marker.
  3. Move the edit cursor to the position to which you wish to move the stretch marker.
  4. Press alt+m (OSARA: Move last focused stretch marker to current edit cursor position).

Accessing FX Plug-in Windows

Some FX plug-ins can be controlled with keyboard commands, but you can't reach them by tabbing through the FX Chain dialog. In these cases, you can press f6 to have OSARA attempt to focus the plug-in window.

Automation Items

An envelope can contain one or more automation items positioned along the timeline. With OSARA, you move to automation items as follows:

  1. Select an envelope using control+l or control+shift+l (OSARA: Select next track/take envelope (depending on focus)).
  2. Now, use the normal item navigation commands; i.e. control+rightArrow and control+leftArrow (Item navigation: Select and move to next item, Item navigation: Select and move to previous item). Multiple selection is also possible using control+shift+rightArrow and control+shift+leftArrow (OSARA: Move to next item (leaving other items selected), OSARA: Move to previous item (leaving other items selected). Noncontiguous selection is done the same way described above for tracks and items.
  3. The item navigation commands will revert back to moving through media items (instead of automation items) when focus is moved away from the envelope. For example, moving to another track and back again will again allow you to move through the media items on the track.

Once you move to an automation item, the commands to move between envelope points such as alt+k and alt+j (OSARA: Move to next envelope point, OSARA: Move to previous envelope point) move between the points in the automation item. The points within an automation item can only be accessed after moving to that automation item; they cannot be accessed from the underlying envelope. To return to the points in the underlying envelope, simply move focus back to the envelope by selecting it again with control+l and control+shift+l (OSARA: Select next track/take envelope (depending on focus), OSARA: Select previous track/take envelope (depending on focus)).

Notes and Chords in the MIDI Editor

In the MIDI Editor, OSARA enables you to move between chords and to move to individual notes in a chord. In this context, a chord is any number of notes that are placed at the exact same position. If there is only one note at a given position, it will be treated as a chord.

You move between chords using the left and right arrow keys (OSARA: Move to previous chord, OSARA: Move to next chord). When you move to a chord, the edit cursor will be placed at the chord and the new position will be reported. The notes of the chord will be played and the number of notes will be reported. The notes in the chord are also selected so you can manipulate the entire chord. For example, pressing delete will delete the chord.

Once you have moved to a chord, you can move to individual notes using the up and down arrow keys (OSARA: Move to previous note in chord, OSARA: Move to next note in chord). When you move to a note, that note will be played and its name will be reported. The single note will also be selected so you can manipulate just that note. For example, pressing delete will delete only that note.

You can select multiple chords or multiple notes in a chord. To do this, first move to the first chord or note you want to select. Then, use shift plus the arrow keys to add the next or previous chord or note to the selection. For example, if you've moved to a chord and also want to add the next chord to the selection, you would press shift+rightArrow.

Noncontiguous selection is also possible. You do this in the same way described above for tracks and items. That is, press shift+space (OSARA: Enable noncontiguous selection/toggle selection of current chord/note) to switch to noncontiguous selection, move to other chords/notes with shift plus the arrow keys and press shift+space to select/unselect the current chord/note.

Configuration

OSARA includes a Configuration dialog to adjust various settings. You open this dialog by pressing control+alt+shift+p (OSARA: Configuration).

The dialog contains the following options:

When you are done, press the OK button to accept any changes or the Cancel button to discard them.

Miscellaneous Actions

OSARA also includes some other miscellaneous actions.

Main

MIDI Event List Editor

Support

If you need help, please subscribe to the Reapers Without Peepers mailing list and ask your questions there.

Reporting Issues

Issues should be reported on GitHub.

Building

This section is for those interested in building OSARA from source code.

Getting the Source Code

The OSARA Git repository is located at https://github.com/jcsteh/osara.git. You can clone it with the following command, which will place files in a directory named osara:

git clone --recursive https://github.com/jcsteh/osara.git

The --recursive option is needed to retrieve Git submodules we use. If you didn't pass this option to git clone, you will need to run git submodule update --init. Whenever a required submodule commit changes (e.g. after git pull), you will need to run git submodule update. If you aren't sure, run git submodule update after every git pull, merge or checkout.

Dependencies

To build OSARA, you will need:

How to Build

To build OSARA, from a command prompt, simply change to the OSARA checkout directory and run scons. The resulting installer can be found in the installer directory.

Contributors