I’ve had my mac for about five months now and i love it. I have talked to several of my friends about the mac and the benefits for visually impaired users. one of my friends has now invested in the mac and I decided it would be a good idea to share some of the knowledge I’ve picked up along the way to share with other new visually impaired mac users. I’m no expert and I may have missed things out, and i might not cover everything you think I should, so if that is the case, please feel free to leave me a comment and let me know. I’ll try and do a few tutorials, but i’m no expert and I may not be the most perfect speller in the world, but I will try and help anyone who needs it.
Please feel free to message me and let me know what you think. The mac is a wonderful thing, you just have to learn it and not compare it to windows. It’s vital for learning the operating systems.
Here’s the intro
Some definitions and tips for Voice over and getting started with your mac.
The doc is where all of your applications are situated. from here you can open regularly used applications and don’t worry if something’s not there. All you need to do is put it there which is easy. Standardly, regularly used applications such as safari, mail, ichat, itunes, etc are placed in the doc by default. So to get to your doc, all you need to do is press your voice over keys [control plus option] and d. then use your voice over keys to move left orright, [the doc is by default situated at the bottom of your screen. You can move it to the left or right if you like, later on]. once you found the application you want to open, press enter. Also remember that if you want to open itunes, you can press i while in the doc and it will take you to itunes immediately. pressing I and then c will more than likely take you to the first application with the first letters being I and C which could be ichat or ical, depending which comes first. so once you found the application you want to open, press enter and it will be activated.
We have three menus in the mac, the apple menu which will also act as your application menu. if you are focussed on safari for example, and you press the menu, it will go to the apple menu first and then if you move to the right using voice over and the right arrow, it will take you to the safaris menus, such as file, edit, view, history, etc. to activate a menu, i.e, go into that menu, press voice over keys and down arrow and maneuver through the menus with your voice over keys. Pressing enter at any point will activate that action.
The apple menu
Here you can perform simple actions, such as turn your mac off, make your mac sleep or restart, force quit a programme, edit settings such as the doc, view recent items, etc. To activate any menu, hit voiceover keys and M.
Task bar menu
Here is where your indicators are situated. such as volume, if you have wireless enabled or in mac’s terminolgy airport, how many bars it is on, your battery and date and time and some other things too.
Here you can change the indicators values, so if you want to turn your mac’s volume up, simply press vo + M twice to go to the task bar menu, and then use your navigation keys to move along. you will hear voice over say a percentage and volume button, simply press the down arrow key to turn the volume down and interact with that slider or press up arrow to turn the volume up. the same things can be done to check your battery and what power source you are using by pressing vo + right arrow to move along the menu and find the battery menu. pressing vo + down will tell you what charge rate your battery is at and pressing vo + down arrow again will tell you if your mac is on power adapter or batter. [this will obviously not be applicable to imac or mini mac users].
This is really useful for finding things. If you need to find a application that isn’t on your doc, simply press vo + m three times and it will bring up the spotlight menu. or an easier way is pressing command spacebar. enter the name of the application/file and as you type different things will come up. once you’ve finished typing the item you’re looking for, press vo + down arrow and voice over will take you to the items displayed. Press enter to open the item you desire.
here is a list of key strokes that should get you started, both in mac and voice over.
voice over keys– = control + option
to move right– = voice over keys [vo] + right arrow
to move left– = vo + left arrow
to move up– = vo + up
to move down– = vo + down arrow
to read content area, i.e, document/email– = vo + A
to read a sentence– = vo + s
to read a line– = vo + L
to read a paragraph– = vo + P
to interact with an area– = vo + shift + down arrow
to stop interacting– = vo + shift + up arrow
to go to the end of the window or interacted area– = vo + shift + end
to go to the top of the area or interacted area– = vo + shift + home
to move up or down a paragraph– = vo + shift + page up or page down
Navigating with lots of elements
Here is a list of keystrokes that will primarily help you around the web. be warned, some websites are not necessarily going to let these actions perform very easily. Hopefully the next version of safari will fix this problem.
lock vo keys [very useful if you’re mainly navigatin, just remember to unlock if you need to enter text]– = vo + semicolon
jump to next frame– = vo + command + f
jump to next graphic– = vo + command + g
Move to next heading– = vo + command + H
Move to next heading, same level– = vo + command + M
move to next different element– = vo + command + N
Move to next element [such as button, text box, check box, radio button, etc]– = vo + command + J
Move to next colour change– = vo + command + K
move to next hyper link– = vo + command + L
Move to next visited hyper link– = vo + command + V
move to next plain text– = vo + command + P
move to next font change– = vo + command + O
move to next italic text– = vo + command + I
move to next underlined text– = vo + command + u
Move to next bold text– = vo + command + B
move to block quote at same level– = vo + command + w
move to next block quote– = vo + command + q
move to next list item– = vo + command + X
move to next style change– = vo + command + c
mac and voice over keys together
go to the doc– = vo + d
go to menu– = vo + M
go to the task bar menu– = vo + M twice
go to spotlight– = vo + m three times or command spacebar
select an element on a webpage– = vo plus spacebar or vo + shift + spacebar or enter. [note, this depends on the element and the page. try each if the first doesn’t work! One usually does work. You’ll learn which ones do work for what on each webpage]
open a pop up menu– = vo + spacebar
select an item and leave a menu– = enter
select a radio button– = either vo + spacebar or just spacebar. if you use vo and spacebar it will read the action.
Item and link choosers
This is a really cool way to find things on a webpage. if you’re looking to find text within text edit for example, there is a way there too but I’ll focus on that later.
Item chooser is great if you want to find text, a control button, anything on a webpage. hit vo + i and it will say item chooser. sometimes this may take a few seconds, depending on how much content there is on the page. once it says item chooser menu, start to type the thing you are looking for. for example, on facebook, if you’re looking for your home link, type home and it will say home in the item chooser. press enter once to highlight the item and enter again or vo + spacebar, whichever you prefer to activate the link. This works for text too. so if you’re on a forum and you know roughly a word you wrote last time and you want to go to your last post to see if any other posts have occurred, type a word and the line of text your word is in will come up in item chooser. press enter to leave item chooser and use your navigation keys to move from there.
Link chooser works in a similar way, except it only works for links. To activate the links choser menu, hit vo + u. This has been useful, before hotmail redesigned their email page. the delete, move, new buttons were in some hidden files on the web page. Normally item chooser would pick things like that up but because they were hidden, voice over couldn’t find them with the item chooser. hOwever, by using the links chooser the item was found. However, unlike most elements, you had to use the vo + spacebar to activate the hidden elements. Happy to say hotmail have changed their site now so it’s all up and working with item chooser again.