Since getting my new computer, every Blind Confidential article I’ve written describes my experience with Window Vista and the behavior of JAWS, System Access and Window-eyes in the new operating system. I would like to take this time to express my thanks to the manufacturers of the screen access products that I have evaluated over the past few weeks.
Mike Calvo and Monster Matt Campbell have been terrific, providing answers to questions on the telephone as well as an email. Matt’s incredible week of hacking to provide a really excellent level of ACCESS TO THE Vista speech recognition system lets me use System Access almost entirely without need to touch my keyboard and without needing to purchase a third party extension to their terrific product.
Jim Ellsworth from Freedom Scientific technical support spent a lot of time with me on the telephone and corresponding by email. He sent me a link to a pre-release version of JAWS the fix is a number of problems that I have reported which also seems two improve the overall performance in Vista. It was nice chatting with one of my former colleagues and I very much appreciate the help provided to improve my experience with JAWS in Vista.
Finally, I would like to thank Aaron from GW Micro for his patient help answering my novice questions without losing his temper in telling me to RTFM. Window-Eyes pose the greatest challenge to me the cause its user interface is so different from JAWS and, by have it, I will often hit in IS JAWS keystroke without giving much thought to it.
For a project that I’m working on, I am building the table that compares the performance of a number of screen readers across a wide variety of features on both Windows XP and Vista. From my experiences past month comparing three screen readers in Vista, I have found that each has its own set of strengths and weaknesses and feel that anyone making a purchasing decision should try to live with a number of different screen readers to determine which will best suit their needs.
For the past couple of weeks I’ve also been running VMWare and a Ubuntu distribution of the cap Linux operating environments. In the gnome desktop I use the orca screen reader which, for many things, works very well. I expect that in the coming weeks I will start hacking on orca a bit and hopefully be able to make some contributions that its users will find valuable.
I’m also enjoying being back in a UNIX environment for the first time in many years. It isn’t quite as friendly as Microsoft Windows but having the source code to everything that I might have to use really makes using it a lot of fun. Open source software can have support for an accessibility API added by a volunteer who finds the problem interesting. With the move to an increasing level of compliance with standards the operating system and applications that a user needs can be chosen based upon their personal use case rather than being identical to every other computer in an organization. I find this emerging freedom of choice to be quite exciting and I anticipate seeing many more open source accessibility tools emerging in the future.