Digital technology has also given blind people ever-expanding opportunities for personal and professional growth.
To make such a highly visual environment accessible to those unable to see a computer monitor, assistive technology must do two things:
1. Enable users to read all onscreen content, whether emails, spreadsheet columns, application tool bars, or photo captions
2. Provide a means to navigate one’s keyboard and desktop, open and use programs, and browse the web.
The two technologies that make this possible are screen access- and magnification software programs.
There are two programs that can create a virtual machine: Parallels Desktop for Mac and VMware Fusion. VMware Fusion has better accessibility. With the VM option, it is possible to switch operating systems without rebooting, allowing Windows programs to be launched from within the Mac system.
Since the Mac keyboard does not contain a “Delete” key, “Insert” key, and some others, some keyboard remapping may need to be done in order to use the Windows screen reader’s hot keys. One remapping program is Sharp Keys. Fortunately, on the Mac keyboard, the “Command” key, which is to the left of the space bar, acts as the “Windows”key. The “Option” key (next to the “Command” key on the Mac) functions as the “Alt” key in Windows. The “Control” key (next to the “Options” key on the Mac) functions as the same key in Windows.
For example, rather than double-clicking on the Internet Explorer icon, a blind person might press in succession:
“Windows” key to reach the Start menu
“P” to access their program list
“I” for all applications beginning with “I”
“Down arrow” to scroll though the list
“Enter” once they hear “Internet Explorer.”
It sounds painstaking, but screen readers speed navigation by providing shortcuts and audible cues.
For example, the arrow keys enable users to quickly cycle around desktop items or section headings on a website. Pressing Insert + F7 displays a list of all links on that page.The main drawback with screen readers is price: JAWS Standard costs $895.
Serotek offers System Access to Go, a free, web-resident version of its flagship screen reader. After creating an account, users can make any computer connected to the Internet accessible by simply logging in and pressing Enter.