KDE Version 3.4 Unveiled

The open-source KDE Project announced yesterday the release of its K Desktop Environment 3.4. The latest release, which has been in development for more than a year, includes accessibility features the organization says will be a boon for partially sighted and speech-impaired users.

KDE 3.4 includes an advanced KDE text-to-speech framework, which integrates into KDE’s PDF viewer, editor and Web browser and into its new speaker tool KSayIt. For people with limited vision, several high-contrast themes have been added, including a complete monochrome icon set. Other accessibility applications have been improved as well.

KmouseTool, for example, has the ability to click the mouse for users with carpal tunnel syndrome or tendinitis; KMouth to allow the computer to speak for the speech impaired; and KMagnifier to magnify sections of screen for partially-sighted users.

Standard accessibility features including “Sticky Keys,” “Slow Keys” and “Bounce Keys” are also available. KDE said it hopes this latest release will attract a much wider audience, including “a section of the population that is often overlooked.”

KDE 3.4 also improves the system’s personal information management suite, Kontact, and instant messenger system, Kopete.

The desktop environment is available for free download under open-source licenses and can be obtained in source and numerous binary formats from the KDE Web site, on CD-ROM or with any of the major GNU/Linux-Unix systems shipping currently.

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