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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Venturing Further Into Vista: Preparing to Live With SA for a Time

Today, I start my next steps into using Vista with a screen reader.  Before jumping straight into the titular subject of this story, though, I’d like to correct a couple of minor mistakes in yesterday’s piece.  First, I didn’t want to use the word “Explorers” in the title, that was supposed to be “Explores” without the second “r.”  Second, I dictated the piece pretty quickly and made a minor misstatement when I said that the JAWS Dictionary Manager modified jkm files.  I had meant to write Keyboard Manager and missed the error when I reread the article before posting it.  Changes made in the JAWS Dictionary Manager also take effect immediately but its information is stored in .jdf files, not jkm.


Starting today, I will switch and use System Access as my primary screen reader on my Vista computer.  I will use SA almost all of the time and will only start Window-Eyes or JAWS if and when something bad happens.  I may also launch Narrator to get out of an unexpected jam.


After reading Ranger’s post (in Ranger Station blog, link above) I now feel pretty confident that SA may be the only screen reader I need but I expect that WE and JAWS will have their place in my computing life.


I’m very interested in Windows Media Center which works very poorly with Window-Eyes 6.1 and I haven’t tried it yet with JAWS.  The Media Center has Tivo like features which, unless one does some things to a set top box that probably invalidates the warrantee, would mean that people with vision impairment can enjoy things like TV listings specific to their cable provider and set up recording times and perform other tasks that sighted people have been taking for granted for a very long time.


I am very interested in home automation as a step forward in the ability of people with vision impairment to live independently.  As an increasing number of home appliances come with flat touch screen displays with a hierarchical set of menus that, for all intents and purposes, cannot be used effectively by a blind person.  If the consumer electronics industry can choose a standard protocol for interoperability between the devices and user agents designed for needs of a specific group, all of this will become accessible very soon.


So, I’m off to install SA cleanly (with no other screen readers running) and I’m looking forward to learning how much of my computing tasks can be handled by the newest player in the game.






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