Sublime Forum

Screen reader accessibility


I just downloaded the latest version of sublime text today, and it is almost totally inaccessible with my screen readers for windows and http://nvda-project.orgNVDA screen readers. For example, I can access the menus, but I can’t read anything in the editor. That is, I can’t write and read code because JAWS or NVDA doesn’t say anything. Do you plan to make sublime text accessible for blind users like me in the future? I really want to use it but it’s just so inaccessible for me. Thanks for any feedback :smile:

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I have been helping a blind friend find a text editor for programming. See the link below for a site that provides good resources including a list of text editors that are said to work well with screen readers:

He said the Edsharp editor works quite well with his screenreader.



I would like to bump this — accessibility is a thing that should be provided.

It might be hard, but it is the right thing to do.

And it would help my blind coworker out… a heap.

Poor sap is stuck on Windows cause there are exactly zero good accessible code editors for macOS.



That’s not exactly true. I used TextMate before I started using sublime, and even today I still use it when I want to use screen reader. At least for reading selected text it works like a charm.

Although I think Sublime is the natural evolution / substitute for TextMate, I think it’s a bad thing that until now it doesn’t support screen reading. I leave here the appeal for this to be implemented in Sublime. I don’t believe it’s such a hard thing to implement.




as far as text editing and keyboard navigation behavior is concerned, and as far as I know, the only fully accessible text editors are TextEdit and Xcode. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend TextMate, because some of its keyboard navigation behavior is not properly working with VoiceOver.

Kind regards



As a visually impaired user just trying to get started with VoiceOver, as far as I can tell SublimeText just doesn’t work at all.

It’s appalling that a premium product like this can get away with ignoring this sort of issue for the best part of 7 years. I registered on this forum purely so I could register my disappointment.



I find it very depressing how this hasn’t had any feedback from the developer at all, and yet the web site has the audacity to claim Sublime Text is “Text Editing, Done Right”.

I can understand how it might be difficult but this bug was reported years ago. At the very least please change the strapline. I don’t think anything that discriminates (intentionally or not) can be considered “done right”.



Well Sublime Text is an extendable text editor. That is what it is meant to be. Wasn’t designed for visually impaired users. Use something else for that.



I’m not sure why being an “extendable text editor” is any reason why it shouldn’t have basic accessibility support… That doesn’t really seem to be anything to do with it.

If you implying that visually impaired users don’t need extendable text editors, then I find that a perplexing opinion. To me it feels like having a shop with steps and no wheelchair ramp and then saying your shop doesn’t support people in wheelchairs.

Sublime Text should not advertise itself as “Text Editing, Done Right” if it’s clearly discriminating, regardless of whether it’s caused by ignorance or intent. Not supporting basic accessibility features in 2021 is crazy. If the strapline was “Text Editing, for the sighted” then I would be less angry about it.



It isn’t. There are other choices in the market for that. Use one of those instead. Sublime Text is a text editor. It isn’t marketed as the “Accessible Text Editor”. That is something you made up in your head.

Not really. Visually impaired users are a minority. Asking for a small company to support that is too much. Only big corporations like Microsoft and Google have the money and resources for that.

Not the same. Limitations are very different in these cases. Sublime Text is not obligated to be accessible. A person in a wheelchair NEEDS a ramp or elevator to get to place. A visually impaired user can just use an alternative text editor that fills that wish.



Well, a wheelchair user can just go to a different shop based on that logic.

It’s funny - I tried BBEdit earlier today and it has a similar problem to Sublime Text. I dropped them an email to ask about it, and they replied pretty quickly afterwards. They apologised and explained about technical difficulties in supporting it with their custom text editor and also in limitations within VoiceOver. And although that is also disappointing, it left me feeling a lot less frustrated than with Sublime Text who genuinely seem not to care. So contrast an apology and some degree of understanding with radio silence lasting years and a completely unsympathetic reply. I’m not sure if you have any affiliation with Sublime or not but I’m not seeing any other comments on here from anyone in the know.

Again, “Text Editing Done Right” is a joke of a slogan.



You misunderstood. Wheelchair user needs an elevator or ramp to get to a place. Otherwise, it becomes inaccessible. And the user cannot continue forward without help. A visually impaired user can just pick another program that is accessible easily.

Only in your head. This is a text editor. Serves that purpose. Look elsewhere, if you really care about accessibility. Don’t come here demanding it. You are not entitled to that.



Lets please try to be civil with each other here, please.

The appropriate place for feature requests or bug reports is on the Issue Tracker; the forum sees a lot of activity and it doesn’t take very long for things like this to drop off the bottom, out of sight and into obscurity.

There is already an existing feature request for this as outlined below; efforts are probably better spent weighing in there:



You misunderstood. Wheelchair user needs an elevator or ramp to get to a place. Otherwise, it becomes inaccessible. And the user cannot continue forward without help. A visually impaired user can just pick another program that is accessible easily.

I don’t see how that is any different to “just go to a different shop”.



Apologies for the frustration. There’s a couple reasons why accessibility hasn’t and won’t be implemented in the foreseeable future:

  • We lack any sort of expertise in the subject area, without which I don’t see how we could possibly do a good job.
  • We have our own custom cross-platform UI toolkit and with each platform having its own accessibility interfaces it’s a lot of work for a user-base we don’t currently have.
  • Especially for editing code I don’t think having accessibility tacked on to a GUI that was wholly designed without it in mind would actually have a good UX. Something built from the ground up for the visually impaired would always do a much better job; for instance varying the pitch and speed as an alternative to syntax highlighting.
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It is different. Picking a text editor is not the same as a place not having a ramp or elevator. You can easily change text editors and accessibility is not a government mandated policy in the case of this type of software.



You can also “easily” change which store you buy from. Plenty of businesses aren’t required to be accessible - in Australia it’s when there is “unjustifiable hardship” in making it accessible. We’re a business that provides software, much like a store provides their products; so we’re the equivalent of wheelchair inaccessible but for the visually impaired.



You are comparing apple to oranges, but you are free to believe that. All the accessible software I know come from big corporations like Microsoft, Google. Even said champions of accessibility like Linux Foundation, GNOME, or Mozilla are funded by those big corporations. So to me expecting accessibility in software from a small company not funded by bigger companies or investors is unreal.



I would still ike to know what affiliation you have with Sublime. Are you just randomly posting in here, or do you actually have any authority to be talking about this?

Actually finding a text editor that works with VoiceOver is not straightforward. Trying to navigate web sites, install applications and figure out how to use them is actually an incredibly frustrating process, not to mention time consuming.

The only editor I have found that works so far is Visual Studio Code, which I’ve never quite got on with. I would have thought that a market leader top of the line product like Sublime Text which prides itself on being a premium product would have been a likely candidate for this.

To say that blind users don’t count because they are a minority is absolutely shocking and insulting. For the developer of Sublime to come in and say that they do not have the resources or expertise to support it is different.

However, I would argue that an “extendable text editor” is surely built specifically to deal with monitority cases. That’s why it’s extendable - so that it can be used by whoever for whatever reason. To say that a product shouldn’t support a minority just because they are a minority would exclude a large proportion of the features in this product I’m sure.

I would also argue that because the abundance of text editors you claim exists actually doesn’t, that there there is likely an untapped market here.

I cannot force Sublime so support VoiceOver, but just a bit of engagement and respect goes a long way.



None. My opinions are my own. I only need an user account to comment.

No, ST is a text editor. It delivers on that. Accessibility was never part of its design. Keep using VS Code.

Both statements are true. No small business thinks about blind users when making a product to sell. No small business have the resources or expertise to spend on that kind of user.

Nope. Its extendable in the sense that an user can add or edit features within the limits of Sublime Text.

Sure, a market that only big corporations can tap into. Leave it to Google and Microsoft. They are big enough to fill that need without breaking the bank and risking their entire existence for such a small user base.