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Thread: Mac and Accessibility Resources

  1. #1

    Mac and Accessibility Resources

    I have been a long-time Mac computer user (since 1984) and was very proud of the initial efforts by Apple in the 1980's to address the needs of the disabled on computers. For example, they introduced the concept of sticky keys and offered the first voice-recognition programs that came standard with the original Mac system software. However, their efforts in this area lagged during the early 1990's.

    With the introduction of OSX, however, Apple has renewed their commitment to the disability community by putting many standard features on their system and providing kits for people with different computer access requirements.

    OSX now includes:

    • Universal Access. This provides Zoom for people with impaired sight, text-to-speech, sticky keys, and other standard features on the operating system.
    • Speech Recognition. They provide "command sets" that extend voice recognition software command and control capabilities. These boost the ability of Plaintalk from Apple, ViaVoice from IBM, and iListen from MacSpeech.
    • Touchscreen. Troll Touch is available for most Mac screens.
    • SwitchXS. This allows people who cannot use a keyboard or mouse and can only press a single switch to control all standard Mac applications and provide full mouse and keyboard emulation through a scanning mode.

    Finally, there is an article by Richard Wanderman & David Clark on Mac OS X Accessbility Resources.

  2. #2
    I'm also a longtime Macintosh computer user - bought my first one in 1984. However, since my accident I've had to switch to Windows. Voice recognition for Macintosh just hasn't kept up, although I do see signs of improvement. Thanks for these links - maybe I'll be able to switch back!

  3. #3
    I'll chime in here... I use a Mac as well & love it. For what it's worth, the accessibility features are about equal to those on Windows systems (I used win2000 & XP throughout college), although they seem to integrate more smoothly on the Mac (plus on OS X, the speech voices don't sound like Stephen Hawking, as they do in Windows).

    I only use sticky keys (I'm c6/7)... gave up on voice recognition b/c I got impatient with it. I've heard that it has gotten better by leaps and bounds even in the past year or two, so Brian, you may want to check out ViaVoice.

    and yes, OS X works almost seamlessly with Windows. my bro has a Dell laptop, my mom has a custom Windows box we built, & I have a Powerbook... all running on the same wireless network, all sharing drives, etc. The only thing I can't do is print to a network printer from OS X.

  4. #4
    I'm thinking about switching back to Apple. Shared one with a gf back in the 80's. Work (majority of my use) has always been pc based so I stayed with it for personal use - didn't give it much thought.

    I currently use a Sony VAIO which has served me pretty well for 3+ yrs but went to the local Apple store and was blown away by the new models - impressive.

    Any recommendations on best value for the $$$ in the Apple lineup?

    A friend has a Powerbook and loves it but I'm not sure whether to stay laptop or go keyboard? Currently, I use both pretty interchangeably without any mods.

  5. #5
    I'm a long time Mac user also. I use sticky keys regularly and I used to use ViaVoice, but I can hammer away at the keyboard a bit more accurately.

    My G4 with OS X and my PC with Win2k get along just fine file sharing over my network and shared net connection through a router.

    95% of the time I find myself in front of my Mac. I also love my one button mouse...(yes one button. It's quite difficult to right click for me and there isn't a great need to with OS X as well.)

  6. #6
    Depending on what you're going to be doing on it, will help to dictate which one is right for you. The PowerBooks are great and the iBooks start at $999. The iMac is a great system with a beautiful flat LCD display starting at $1299. The PowerMac G4's all have dual prossecors and start at $1499. They look and work great.

    Here's mine:

  7. #7
    Originally posted by Brad_D:

    I also love my one button mouse...(yes one button. It's quite difficult to right click for me and there isn't a great need to with OS X as well.)
    I have a 2-button microsoft optical mouse w/ a wheel, cost me $14... compared to a $60 Apple mouse (although it looks cool), same resolution... I use the 2nd button ALL the time in OS X (sorry Brad ).. That's one of a couple gripes I've got towards Apple, but otherwise... I love my Mac.

    Phebus... what would you be using it for primarily? These things have plenty of power... depending on the use. I need more though... I do a lot of graphics work & frequently work with photos up to 6000x3000px, 300mb. Pretty crazy, I know, but cool. My 800mhz Powerbook, 512 ram, handles them reasonably well. The new models should be more than enough for general use.

    my rec. for everyday stuff: the 12" Powerbook or the iMac.

  8. #8
    Thanks guys.

    Brad, nice setup. Which model is that photographed?

    jmu, I'm pretty low tech but very visual and would love to do more photo work, video. My needs are very basic with e-mail, documents and internet.

    You're probably right iMac or Powerbook.

  9. #9
    Originally posted by Phebus:

    Thanks guys.

    Brad, nice setup. Which model is that photographed?
    Apple PowerMac G4 1.0Ghz
    OS X 10.2.6 / OS 9.2.2
    1.25 GB RAM
    80GB & 60GB HDs
    gbit ethernet
    Dual firewire & USB
    Apple Studio Display 17" Flat Panel DVI
    Superdrive (CDRW/DVD-R)
    nVidia Gforce 4 Graphics card 64mb
    iPod, Printer, scanner, dig camera.
    Linksys 10/100 802.11b Wi-Fi router.

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