Vocal and keyboard autoscrolling in Firefox: Woohoo!

I’m still a little peeved at Nuance for breaking their middle click command, and likewise a little bit puzzled at the Mozilla developers for making such a useful function as auto scroll exclusive to the mouse. A lot of people who can’t use the mouse — be they Dragon users or keyboard-only users or both — don’t feel like writing their own voice commands or AutoHotKey assignments or what have you. Not for what is supposed to be a basic native Firefox function, at least. What about that standard that says all functions should be accessible from the keyboard, huh? While computer users with disabilities do have to take more responsibility for finding things out themselves, it baffles me that programmers can’t even meet us halfway sometimes. The more function you have built into a program, the safer you feel, because — well, what if your add-ons stop being developed or something? You get the idea.

However, after much frustrated googling, I am just elated. Whether you are a Dragon user or keyboard user, you can now auto scroll any page without using a mouse command. Tim Harper, a.k.a. Tim the Enchanter, has written a bookmarklet that does just that — loads a JavaScript for auto scrolling into any page you’re on. All you have to do is go to his page, and save the humongous Autoscroll link into your Bookmarks Toolbar using the mouse commands (for Dragon), but that’s the only time, I promise. (The toolbar method is mainly for Dragon users because Mozilla hasn’t made the toolbar itself keyboard accessible.)

If you are a keyboard user, you need to use Mouse Keys (sorry, tabbing to the link doesn’t seem to work, or least I can’t see it being highlighted) to right-click over the link, and choose “Bookmarks Menu” for the location. That’s more efficient because it makes your keyboard shortcut more fluid: Alt-B-A. Done. (Of course, you might have to press A more than once if you have bookmarks that start with the same letter. For efficiency in selecting, it might be a good idea to de-clutter your menu, either by deleting old bookmarks or putting them into a folder.)

Tim lists the shortcuts for increasing the speed on his page, but please note — since we’re probably all using Mouseless Browsing, the number key shortcuts will conflict. (However, we can by all means still access links and fields via Mouseless Browsing with no problem.) Stick with the Control-Shift-+ or Control-Shift– shortcuts, and you’ll be fine. If the default speed is too slow for you, you can edit the script to adjust it. To do this:

1. Go to Organize Bookmarks under the Bookmarks menu (Ctrl-Shift-B).

2. Choose either Bookmarks Menu or Bookmarks Toolbar, depending on where you put the bookmarklet. Then, highlight Autoscroll from the results side.

3. Look at the Location field. Instead of seeing a web address, you will see the script itself. With either voice or keyboard, go to the Location field and press Control-C.

4. Open Notepad. Press Control-V. You will see the script in full.

5. On the 2nd line, look for ss_speed=1. Once you find it, change 1 to about 3; that’s middling at least. Then, select and copy the document via Control-A Control C, and go back to your Bookmark Organizer.

6. Go into the Location field again if you’re not still there. Press Control-V. This will paste the adjusted script.

7. Now, whenever you say “Autoscroll” or execute the keyboard shortcut, the page will scroll at the speed you want.

Tim’s script can be found here. Enjoy!

This entry was posted in Disability, Technology and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Vocal and keyboard autoscrolling in Firefox: Woohoo!

  1. MikeS says:

    thanks a lot! Your explanation really helped me getting it to work.

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