The following is a Guest Post from broadband suppliers:
There is a common thought among Windows users that Apple is more complicated and is only for techies. I was a Windows user for a long time until I got a chance to access one of my office’s Macbooks. It was an easy and friendly experience that provoked me to upgrade to Macintosh. I feel more comfortable, faster and proud to be with Apple now.
Every Apple product is embedded with an innovative solution that provides more accessibility to the user. Assistive technology has become a default standard of Apple at no extra cost. The experience of the product is same for all the users including the users with special needs. These are the key factors for the success of Apple.
All the Mac products are provided with an alternative simplified interface that can help users to learn and explore the features. Especially users who have difficulty in using a mouse are provided with features like slow keys, sticky keys, gestures, voice over, quick nav, etc.
Accessibility for Vision Disabilities
Apple’s assistive technology provides wide options for the users who have visual difficulties, which allows users to control the screen without even looking at it. Voice over is a speech to text tool that can auto speak and describes what is happening on the screen. This tool can be controlled by simple gestures like tapping or flicking the track pad. It can also be controlled using a virtual dial called the rotor to change its settings. Users are allowed to assign gestures using voice over commands to control the MAC. It also supports USB and Bluetooth Braille displays and automatically programs the keys based on the model.
Alex voice is one of the most important features which speaks English with a natural intonation even after faster speech rates. It analyzes a paragraph, understands the meaning and delivers content more naturally taking enough breathe between the passages.
Voice over includes a built in screen magnification with up to 40 times zoom in and a cursor magnification which makes it easy for the user to follow. High contrast and reverse video lets the user to play with display settings like color, contrast, scaling and system widening. Also there are a variety of apps with a talking feature like talking alert, calculator and clock.
Accessibility for Hearing Disabilities
All the audio, conversational and chat programs are featured with many options that help users who are deaf and hard of hearing. All the dynamic contents like movies, videos, podcasts has open and closed caption play back facility. These captions appear with sans serif font against a black background. User created contents can also be included with captions.
Mac OS X includes a powerful iChat application for text, audio and video conferencing and stay connected with contacts from AIM, MobileME, Google Talk, etc. Video and text relay calls are also possible using a service called HOVRS.com.
QuickTime recording is a feature of QuickTime Player that can help users to record a sign language message to play later or send as attachment or post in a blog. Mac applications alert the user with a beep sound by default, but this also can be chosen to flash the entire screen to grab attention. Above all MAC systems have a distinct feature of playing the left and right stereo type recordings in both the left and right speakers.
Accessibility for Physical Disabilities
Users who have physical disabilities are facilitated with options like slow keys and sticky keys. Slow keys can be used to change the sensitivity of the keyboard to avoid recognition of unintended keystrokes. Sticky keys are optional key combination which can be set by the user as shortcuts for various functions with a sound effect. MAC systems also support multiple keyboard layouts like QWERTY, DVORAK and other custom keyboard shortcuts.
Cursor navigation can be controlled using a mouse, track pad and keys in the numeric keypad. Sensitivity of the clicks can be customized by the user which includes tracking speed, double click speed and scrolling speed. Also the mouse buttons can be assigned with specific operations or turned off completely for a 360 degree scrolling.
Other important features of navigation include multi touch gestures for track pad, full navigation of the keyboard, repeat and delay adjustments of the cursor, onscreen keyboard, character viewer, speech recognition etc. MAC also includes a built in handwriting recognition technology called inkwell and an Automator tool which can be used to record some of the users routine works and can be performed automatically.
Other Accessibility features
Users who are unaware of using a computer or do not have much exposure towards computers can use a MAC very easily with tools like Simple finder, Spotlight, built in dictionary and Thesaurus, word completion, text to speech, text to spoken track using iTunes, math and conversion calculator, etc.
All the features that I have explained are available in every MAC operating system which guarantees a smooth and easy work flow even for the beginners. The dedication of Apple towards accessibility is not just restricted to MAC but also has been extended to all of its products like iPod,iPhone and iPad. The investment of the product is mostly done to create user friendly and faster navigation with no compromise in security as well.
Source: This Guest Post was written by Shahul, a broadband analyst from broadband suppliers, a nationally recognized, reliable source for broadband in the United Kingdom.