Diving into the Mac world.

As of today I am staring at a type of computer that’s leaning against my wall with brevity. Against my wall is a Mac desktop, just waiting to be opened and explored.

How did I get it, you ask? Well, I will give you all a hint. It’s someone who comments on this blog semi religiously. Let’s see who can guess this one!

I’ve never used an accessible Mac before but I have used a Mac. My school had the older ones made back in the early 2000s. Back then I had to click the very small mouse through very small menus and I didn’t understand why the Mac didn’t have a built in screen magnifier. Now, however, this new machine definitely is gonna be a different way of using a computer.

I’ve grown up with windows, and have mastered its inner and outer workings. I learned everything from driver installations to partition formatting, and now I’m about to switch from NVDA to VoiceOver…

Obviously, I’m a huge idiot when it comes to Mac but here are the things that I have learned thus far coupled with some speculations. I’m going to just write about points and expound on thoughts

From what I know, VoiceOver is built into the operating system. I see this as a good thing and a bad thing at the same time. The good thing is with whatever apple products, VoiceOver will be accessible with every application that comes with the operating system. Anything outside the operating system, such as third party software, will have to be evaluated for accessibility.

VoiceOver isn’t open source and unlike NVDA people have to wait for the next operating system upgrade to get a VoiceOver upgrade. I don’t know how I feel about that at all, because I won’t have enough money to keep upgrading software. Who knows, I could be totally wrong and when I finally do boot up my new Mac I’ll have Mavericks laughing out loud at my stupidity. VoiceOver should really be open source, as that’s something that NVDA will have over anything for the sheer amounts of ad ons that you can get for NVDA. On VoiceOver if something isn’t accessible then you either have to wait for the developer to fix it or for apple to do an operating system upgrade. I wish VoiceOver were open source and could have add ons and the like.

Open office. I’ll have to definitely get used to using open office, because I won’t be able to afford to get a new word processor like Microsoft Office Word for Mac. I believe there’s an application on macs that’s called text edit and it’s a free word processor. However, it doesn’t have a grammar check on it nor it doesn’t have autocorrect entries.

For those who don’t know what autocorrect is or understand how it works or get autocorrect confused with auto text, here’s a YouTube video explaining what it is. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emfdRWZFtg0

I use autocorrect as a way to type better because of my cerebral palsy. It’s an accommodation that I’ve used in Microsoft Office Word for years and have even kept a backup using a macro. I don’t know if text edit has this, and looking on YouTube and Google springs me to forums and nothing concrete. Because of this I’ll have to use open office for Mac.

I wonder if macs use drivers like windows computers do. I’m planning on using boot and nuke software to wipe out everything and replace it with Mavericks but then I don’t know how the wireless components of macs operate. On windows, I’d have to install a driver, kind of like the computers brainpower for certain things. There’s the display driver, mouse driver, keyboard driver, and internet driver as I call it. Some people call it the wireless WLAN and Ethernet drivers. If I upgrade after wiping everything out I may have wiped out the drivers, or whatever, also, and not have any internet and the like.

I’m sure Blogging on the Mac will be easier, I’m certain.

VoiceOver is different than any other screen reader that I have ever used. I know that’s basic knowledge but while researching blindness and the Mac I came across an article in the NFB braille monitor called “Ease of Access of the Apple OS 10.5 Leopard Environment with VoiceOver,” in reading the article, at first I assumed that this guy knew what he was talking about but little things started to tickle my bullshit detector like a pair of X ray glasses. I don’t want to go into everything here but one of the statements made over and over again that just made me LOL was the fact that windows users won’t have the same experience. No duh, Sherlock, did you think apple was a branch off of Microsoft? He also kept trying to use VoiceOver like a windows screen reader. Did he know that he wasn’t using windows? I’m just wondering. Lastly, I noticed he said that he didn’t have any application help within the VoiceOver manual. This is just me but if you want to get application help then won’t you have to read the application manual and then Google to see if there’s a VoiceOver guide on using the application?

The article had me worried and slightly intimidated. Having been a windows baby boomer all my life I have no idea how I’m going to be able to start using the Mac at all with VoiceOver. I’ll try and use it like windows, for sure, but I have to get out of that mindset. That’s going to be very hard to do.

All the same, I’m definitely computer savvy so I believe with a year on the Mac I’ll be using it as if I’ve had one for years. One other thing that’s a bit daunting is there isn’t a Cingular place to get VoiceOver tips and tricks. One website doesn’t have everything. Applevis is a good place to start out with though they focus a lot on iPhones and IPads. I’m also just wondering if there’s an accessible Pandora application or Spotify or last.FM application with the Mac. I HATE iTunes with a passion and I want to have streaming music and I don’t want to download everything to my computer.

This will definitely be an interesting ride and I will let you all know how it goes! I can’t wait to open it up and actually dive into the Mac world. I’m definitely ready! I’ll, of course, be Blogging about my hilarious Mac adventures.

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Robert W Kingett

Robert Kingett is a gay blind journalist, and author, with many publications in magazines, anthologies, and blogs. He has judged many writing contests and has won many awards for his writings and advocacy.

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