Early Access Program

IntelliJ IDEA 2018.3 EAP: High-Contrast Theme, and More Accessibility Improvements

We are very much committed to improving accessibility across our products and I’m happy to announce that with the upcoming release of IntelliJ IDEA 2018.3 we’ve made some notable improvements.

High-Contrast Theme

We’ve added a new High-Contrast Theme, which can be accessed using the drop-down list from the theme options under Preferences (Settings) | Appearance & Behavior. Or, use the Ctrl-` shortcut on macOS, Windows, and Linux.


We’re still polishing it and would very much appreciate your feedback. Among other things, we’re trying to determine whether we should increase the default font size as well as the kerning between characters somewhat.

Better Support for screen readers

We’ve increased our support for the screen reader, allowing these to read

  • Line numbers
  • VCS annotations
  • Debugger and other gutter icons

Gutter improvements

In addition, while the focus is on the editor, the new default double shortcut [Alt + Shift + 6] + [F] can be used to focus on the gutter. Screen readers will read the line the cursor is placed on. To move between the gutter icons in the line we can use the right and left arrow keys.

When the screen reader is focused on the gutter, we can use [Alt + Shift + 6] + [T] to read a gutter icon tooltip (when it’s available for the selected element). In addition, it’s possible to browse through the tooltip content by using the arrow keys. To unfocus from the gutter and return to the editor, press ESC.

We’re hoping to extend this functionality to allow screen readers to read all Spring-specific gutter icons too.

Finally, a shout-out to Mohammed Laachir for his contributions in helping fix some accessibility issues in the tables used in dialog boxes.

To activate this new functionality, you can enable support for the screen reader via one of the following options:

1) IDE setting: Settings > Appearance & Behavior > System Settings > Support screen readers
2) JVM option: -Dide.support.screenreaders.enabled=true

More to come

A few years ago we started making improvements in this area with support for people with color deficiencies. With the features we’re adding with this upcoming release as well as some other things we’re working on such as screen magnifiers, we hope to make not only IntelliJ IDEA but the entire IntelliJ Platform accessible to as many people as possible.

The release notes are available here.

the latest IntelliJ IDEA 2018.3 EAP build and let us know what do you think! We are looking forward to hearing your feedback, suggestions, and of course bug reports.

Happy Developing!

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