The two worlds of Voiceover

As a new registrant on this site and a totally blind computer user, but one who has browsed quite a bit, I appreciate all the information it contains.
Intending to be somewhat controversial and spawn a discussion, I’m posting this perspective to see if others agree and how much I can learn from this community. I have been a JAWS user for years and spend much of my work day on a PC writing and editing complex documents in Word, using Outlook very heavily for email and using Internet Explorer on the web for research. A few years ago I bought a MacBook Pro to digitize a large music collection and to experiment with Voiceover. Through work I have both an iPad and iPhone, which I use both with and without braille.
While I believe Apple and app developers have done a fantastic job on accessibility on the IOS platform, I cannot say the same for the OS on the Mac platform. I have had a good deal of experience with accessible phones and, hands down, the iPhone is an absolute marvel. I can handle all my voluminous email, take notes, read newspapers, etc. Because of the smaller screen surface, I find the iPhone easier to use than the iPad (but I can perform all the same functions on it).
I love many features of the Mac platform (especially stability, security and uniformity), but it ranks far lower on the usability scale. While the operations of the machine itself are effectively integrated with Voiceover, I do not believe Apple and Voiceover have come close to Windows and JAWS when it comes to functionality. I do not find Pages to be easily usable and Word for the Mac is inaccessible. Therefore complex word processing is ruled out on the Mac. Similarly, I find using the web with Jaws to be far easier and more efficient than Safari with Voiceover.
While I would like to move everything to the Apple platform, (effectively integrating phones, tablets and computers), I can’t get there. The computer itself is still the mainstay for work and the Mac with Voiceover just can’t compete with the PC and Jaws.
So now, please let me know where you agree and, more importantly, where you disagree.

Forum: 

hi, I partially agree with

hi,
I partially agree with you
but, one thing:
phone and computer's approaches are different from each other, so, it's very easy to find the accessibility of one is different from the other. Better, worse, it depends on what needs a person can have.
Office automation is, let's say, "the painful point" of mac osx accessibility, for now. I do not think the future will stay as it is now, I suppose the iWork platform, now does not move a step but I suppose they have to renew every part of it, including accessibility. Of course, I'm not in apple's head, but I remember when in 2007, after first iPhone came out, I was worried that accessible phones era was over. Now I say just the opposite. Accessibility can only come better. It depends on them (big companies) of course, but also on us, on how we interact with them.
About voiceover and mac, I just tell you that you are right, in certain cases. I do not find safari that different from jaws, about navigating through controls, I find it easier than jaws. just press vo+u, and then arrow right and left to switch between element types, then up and down to choose an element of the same type. Even if, with quicknav activated, there's no "auto forms mode", that is, you must interact with form fields before compiling them
there are too many situations you must interact with elements, and for a person coming from windows it's a bit difficult to learn. I have windows here in office, mac at home and some times it's quite difficult also for me
But, if you want the truth, I'd never go back to jaws again
it costs as a mac book
i have no warranty of updating. that is, if windows is updated i must wait for jaws to update, i am not english mother language so I must wait almost a year to have update
if i have to install a new operating system or initialize the computer I must pay someone to do it
with mac I can do almost everything by myself!
Well I have never initialized the macbook, but I have a time capsule and time machine based structure that can help me if i have to restore something
it's another world
but, if voiceover for mac would become like voiceover for iOS (with no fears of interactions and better office automation) it would be much better

Interaction is Key

As previously mentioned in the comment before me, interacting with elements is a concept many people have trouble getting used to on the Mac. I've been using a Mac for almost a year now and I love it. I'm quite used to interacting with things when I need to. This actually makes it considerably easier and more efficient to navigate around dialogs with a lot less tabbing and groping around. As for the web, I have come to find web surfing to be more enjoyable on the Mac with Safari then I ever get with Windows. On the Windows side, I have usually used Window-Eyes as the screen reader and that is a fine product in itself. I do agree that Office productivity is the big down-fall for the Mac these days. I really wish Open-Office or LibreOffice would become accessible on the Mac platform again; it used to be so with Snow Leopard. I also find iTunes on the Mac to be much easier to use than the Windows Counterpart. Actually for my purposes, I could pretty much do all my personal computer stuff with a combination of Mac and Linux.

Hello, I can not disagree

Hello, I can not disagree with anything you've said except one thing. You wrote "While I believe Apple and app developers have done a fantastic job on accessibility on the IOS platform, I cannot say the same for the OS on the Mac platform." I think they have done a fantastic job for the Mac as well. I just think the improvements are harder to see. Unlike IOS, the Mac platform is not completely shutdown and governed by Apple. They try less to subtlely influence the end user experience. This being the case, I think accessibility lags behind IOS. If you compare accessibility on IOS to that of windows with jaws, I think the same holds true. Another thing to consider is the age of the two desktop screen readers in question. Voiceover on the Mac has been around for 7 years compared to jaws which has been around for nearer 20. You probably started using a Mac using Snow leopard I'm assuming? If so, If you can, find a Mac running 10.4 Tiger. The time between tiger and the release of snow leopard was about 4 years. Look how far Voiceover had come in those intervening years. The difference is jaw dropping in my opinion. especially since desktop development is much more static than that of mobile development. I will agree. There is definitely somethings that Apple needs to address to make the Mac more viable to blind consumers. Productivity and web browsing is two that are most obvious to me. More so productivity than web browsing though. I honestly find browsing on the Mac using 10.8 Mountain Lion no less efficient than Windows running Jaws. I'm anxious to see where Voiceover will be in a couple more years when they have been around for a decade. For me, the gap between Jaws and Voiceover closes with every major release of the Mac OS. I find screen readers on Windows have been in a holding pattern the last 3 to 5 years. Just keeping barely beyond the changes in the accessibility and computing landscape.

Yep

I was actually just telling someone on a mailing list that VoiceOver doesn't properly support some web elements. They were having problems searching by time on Google's search page. Using Firefox and NVDA, I was able to find the appropriate text which was marked clickable and press enter on it. That expanded and I was able to select the time range.

I was successful in routing the mouse to the text and clicking on the Mac with a VO-Command-F5 and VO-Shift-Space, but this really shouldn't be necessary. The ideal way should be to hear that an item is clickable and invoke the VO-Space command to interact with it. Nothing happens when I do this. That's my main gripe with VO. Browsing is 95% there. But as it stands at the moment, Windows wins for now. Sorry Apple fanboys and girls.

Largely agree

I actually love my Mac for media stuff and web browsing. As the above commenter said, there are still one or two issues, but overall I quite like how VoiceOver and Safari work. The big downfall of VoiceOver, and it's incredibly frustrating, is productivity. The lack of accessibility in MS Office and Open Office on Mac, and the fact that iWork is pretty rubbish, means that I had to virtualise and run Windows on the Mac for these things. I did a lot of my work for college last year on my iPad though, where Pages is pretty decent.

Agree in Part

I agree that there are still some tasks that are better on Windows with JAWS, but I disagree that accessibility on the Mac is poor or that it will never be as good or better than Windows with JAWS.

Reading PDFs, professional word processing and creating spreadsheets are still all things I prefer to do on my Windows machine with JAWS. By advanced word processing I mean reading and inserting footnotes, using track changes and comments in Microsoft Word. I understand that VoiceOver is still not yet able to read tables in text documents but I don't come across these very often.

I'm able to browse the internet much faster with JAWS in Windows than I am with VoiceOver in Safari. I like using the control-down arrow to navigate with JAWs or the N key. Whereas with VoiceOver I navigate mainly with VO-right arrow which is too small or by heading level , but sometimes websites don't have headings or the relevant information isn't directly below a heading. Of course both systems work well navigating by form fields and tables etc. VoiceOver sometimes seems to have difficulty finding headings even when I know they are there, and I need to revert to the track pad or restart VoiceOver. However, even with this I still prefer VoiceOver with Safari as I find it works much better with AJAX and therefore many more websites are accessible, such as the standard gmail page and my university's student admin website. Plus my internet browser regularly crashes in Windows and makes JAWS go silent which is really annoying.

And then there are all the other features of Safari. Syncing bookmarks with my iMac, MacBook Air and iPhone via iCloud. iCloud tabs. The reader mode which is a life changer. Adding articles to reader to read later on any device. The integration with Twitter and Facebook. Having short cut keys to switch between bookmarks in my bookmarks bar - all of these make my web browsing experience much better than it ever was on Windows.

Why I like VoiceOver with the Mac
I love Apple Mail with VoiceOver. This works really well and its integration with iPhone contacts via iCloud is great. I also love the ability to swich between email accounts and signatures. I just find it much easier to use than Outlook ever was.

I also love love love the Calendar and Reminder apps. These are great and work really well with VoiceOver. Plus they all sync via iCloud which is brilliant. Adding reminders with Siri, getting alerts on my Mac and sharing reminder lists with other Apple users is brilliant.

iTunes feels like a completely different application on the Mac. I love it. It's probably worth just geting a Mac for the improved experience on iTunes. Of course I was getting used to using iTunes with JAWS just before I switched, but still it's a much nicer app on the Mac. And the ability to airplay is great.

Of course then there's the confidence I have that Apple will keep improving accessibility and keep adding new awesome features as it has done ever since I made the switch. And every update to VoiceOver is free and the upgrades to the new OS are really easy and affordable. I don't have to get a new version of JAWS every year or so just to be able to use the latest in-built apps and features.

I could write much more but I want to get back to enjoying reading the latest news from my RSS reader on my Mac, something which I never came across on Windows. :)

i've been using the mac for 2

i've been using the mac for 2 years now and i have hardly any need to use windows, apart from the odd website that has flash on it. i don't have any need for hardcore wordprocessing at the moment, so i happily use text edit. i prefer browsing with safari to internet explorer, since i've been using the mac i've noticed how jaws can make a webpage untidy, whereas voiceover reads the page as it is. i love the overall stability of the mac. i reckon that in time pages and microsoft word will be accessible.

after reading the comment

after reading the comment about voiceover and jaws, it's amazing how voiceover has come on in the past 5 years, has it really been 7 years that vo has been around? i thought it was since tiger in 2007? i remember seeing a mac with tiger on it and thinking i will never ever use a mac, vo was just a bit more useable than narrator back then. then everything changed in lepard and we got alex. i started using a mac with snowlepard. we're now on mountain lion and i reckon VO will get better and better with each OS. from being like narrator to start with and to now where we can almost use the mac accessibly it's a great jump. ok, jaws has been round longer, but VO has more than made up for it in the past few years. the good thing about VO is that with each OS it's built within the OS, rahter than around it like jaws. interacting takes a bit of getting used to but it's just a normal thing for me now. i've told a few people you don't have to interact with every single table, going up and down with the arrows is fine. VO has it's own shortcuts in safari, the one thing i found laborious at first was going through the hole webpage, then i found out about control option command h for headings, j for formfields etc and my browsing experience got a lot better.

I've got a MacBook Pro for

I've got a MacBook Pro for about two years now and haven't regretted it in the slightest. Granted, productivity as far as dealing with complicated word files is still lacking, but since I don't really have to deal with these that much I don't mind. Microsoft Office has become an industry standard ever since '95 and it's Microsoft, as the developer of the suite that should be blamed for it not being accessible on Mac with VO. Similarly Apple gets blame for iWork, but less as it's not an industry standard like Office. The tools are there to make apps accessible with VO, so we can't really put the blame at the developers at Apple Accessibility responsible for VO and it's quite astonishing growth over the years.
Something I really like on the Mac is audio editing: Garage Band and Amadeus Pro have been enough to cover my needs, if I need more I can always get ProTools, safe in the knowledge it's accessible. On Windows there are SoundForge, GoldWave and Sonar that seem to work well, but especially Sonar as the most professional out of those three requires quite a bit of setup beforehand, which can be counterproductive in some cases.
One other thing I really like about the Mac is that I can update or reinstall the OS myself without any issue whatsoever. Updating from Snow Leopard to Lion to mountain Lion was truly a breeze and doing a clean install of Lion at one point wasn't any harder.
I have absolutely no issue with web browsing and think I'm faster on Safari with VO than I was on Firefox with JAWS (I simply couldn't stand Internet Explorer, though of course had to use it before Firefox came out). Outlook was another programme I didn't like using, so I started using Mozilla's mail client, Thunderbird, which worked much better in my opinion.
One of the biggest strengths of VO I think is the fact you get an idea of the screen's layout and can hop from place to place really quickly, especially using the trackpad. With JAWS I never got a real idea of the layout on the screen, which to me as a person who got blind later was still very important. Interacting with areas on the screen was quite easy for me to get used to and like a previous commenter said it's not essential in some cases, like in Finder, tables, lists, etc. Initially I was doubtful I'd get along with the VO keys, but looking back they haven't caused much bother.
One of the biggest gripes I had with JAWS was the infernal video intercept. At one point I bought a new PC and had to test seven different video cards (I kid you not) until I could use the computer successfully. Freedom Scientific wasn't very helpful with that either, telling me most cards would work, especially Nvidia ones. I can't really compare JAWS and VO at this point as I've not seen or worked with JAWS since version 10.

Rip DVDs to Audio in VO

I've heard that it is not possible to rip a DVD to audio with VO. While there are several Windows programs to do this, are there any on the Mac side? If this is possible, what software would I need.
Thanks

hi, there's a program called

hi, there's a program called dvd re-master tha can wrip dvd's to wav, it's brilliant and quite quick too.

Safari and Voiceover

All,
Thanks for all the comments on my original post. It's quite illuminating to see how others are successfully using Macs in their every day lives.
I agree with many of the comments about JAWS cost and its apparent instability with IE, which seems to be getting worse. My own problem is that I'm so used to IE and JAWS that I just haven't gotten used to Safari and VO. Does anyone have a good tutorial on all the VO commands they use with Safari? the most common theme here seems to be that heavy users seem to like the Safari VO combination once they get used to it.
As for iTunes, I absolutely agree with the comment that it's a game changer on the Mac. I hated it with JAWS and love my 6000 songs on my MacBook. I'm not going to iTunes 11 yet because the reviews I've seen make it sound like a much different look, but no quality improvement.
Everyone has agreed that complex word processing wins on the PC-JAWS combination and since I spend lots of time in that world, the Mac-VO combination won't do it yet. I agree that the leaps forward with VO make me confident that it will continue to improve and in the future word processing will be fully accessible.
So, for now, I may well partition my Mac, install Windows and JAWS, and flip between systems and possibly experiment with VMWare Fusion too.
Thanks again to all.

Completely Agree

Hi there. I do similar work, and I use the PC and JAWS for it. I don't see how VoiceOver and the Mac can come anywhere close to Windows and JAWS for word processing, Web browsing, or even general user-friendliness of the system. I agree with all you've said ... the iPhone is my best friend in many ways, and it would be ideal to benefit from the stability of a Mac. But, at least so far, there is no comparison between VO for the MAC and JAWS.

Would Never go Back

I was using Windows for a long time with JAWS. A year ago, I switched to a MacBook Air. I would never go back because, even though there was a learning curve, I found it easier and more intuitive to use than JAWS. I was also able to set up the computer on my own, something that Windows couldn't do. I do wish that there was a shortcut to go back a page in Safari, but maybe I just haven't figured it out yet. However, overall, I have had a very good experience, and I would never go back to Windows.

Going back a page in Safari

I too love my MacBook Air! :)
To answer the question about going back a page, this can be done with command left bracket.

VoiceOver on the Mac

I use VoiceOver on the Mac now, and I rarely use Windows, except for apps I'd like to use which are Windows-only apps and not available for OS x. I would like VoiceOver for Mac to be as responsive as its iOS counterpart. Has anyone noticed it lags a bit unlike on iOS sometimes?

using a mac.

Hi.
I've been using a macbook pro for a month now and I do like it.
I'm not sure if i like web browsing better on windows compered to the mac yet, but I'm thinking I'm leening more towards windows for web browsing apart from that the mac seems ok.
I could deffenetly go back to windows for me at least I haven't had that many problems with it.
infact, I'm thinking of putting windows on this macbook and I think I'll mostly be using it to do my everyday stuff.
I like the mac because it's fast and very good for the inviroment but I can honestly say that for £1000 I'm not that impressed.
I guess I'm just used to windows and didn't really need a mac but bought it anyway since everyone was going on about it.
well that should teach me. smile. well at least I can put windows on here.
My biggest complaint is the lack of inflection using voiceover.
I like Espeak eliqence, and dectalk for this reason. for example, if I wrote. oh, what a wonderful day, I can't wait to go outside and meat my friends! voiceover with the alix voice or any other as far as I know, doesn't read it with any inflection at all.
If apple accessibility could improve that, that would be great and I might stick to the mac for everything then. but for now, I'll mostly be using eliquence or e speak or dec talk to read thigns.
I must admit I don't really like "real" sounding voices because they don't exclame correctly.
I hope people can make sence of what I wrote. and yes I'm aware you can change intonation but I've tried that and to me there's not a difference apart from making it sound robotic but not in a good way.

update: I've tried the intonation again and it sounds ok, but not like eliqence or dec talk or e speak. hmm I don't no but to me they still sound a lot better. Maybe it's cause I'm used to it? I don't know.

my thoughts

I have been using a macbook pro for only a month. My take? I think I mostly agree about office productivity. You can do basic word processing (which is what I need for now), but entering spreadsheet or presentation territory and you start running into problems. Safari works well enough, for the most part. My 3 current gripes are that Flash doesn't read which I'm tolled is an Adobe problem, going back a page takes you to the beginning rather then the last position you were on, and that selecting is a bit clunky. I also miss some ad-ons I quite liked on Firefox, most notably Adblock which, although does exist for safari, messes up VO a bit.
Lastly. Something no one pointed out, if you have any problem with accessibility, go email apple. It doesn't matter that 10, or even 50 people mention the same thing, that's just an indicator to them that something is needed to be done.

VoiceOver, Productivity , Workflow etc

Hi,

I have to agree for the most part with the original poster. Right now, using the mac in a setting where productivity is a must, for example at school where documents have to be formatted in a certain way or according to certain standards, or at the office/workplace where similar requirements may be set, is unviable at best. Pages is an absolute joke when compared to MS Word, and MS word on the mac is completely inaccessible.
I agree that VoiceOver has come a very long way in the last 6 years. The leap from Tiger to Leopard was quite substantial, and from Leopard to Snow Leopard some quite important functions were introduced. In Lion , multilingual support using the Vocalizer voices was introduced meaning a kick in the teeth for Infovox iVox, and some other changes. But this is where VoiceOver starts to stagnate in my opinion.
Little accessibility bugs are creeping into the system now, inconsistencies, focus loss, general clunkiness. The last few updates to Mountain Lion have not addressed these issues.
Also, VoiceOver is quite the resource hog. I don't mind it if the next release of OSX does not contain any new features whatsoever, if the whole thing is both optimized and cleaned up so all the little bugs are gone.
Another thing that scares me somewhat is the contravercy that Apple itself is creating . They give developers all sorts of API's and tools to make programs for the mac OSX platform accessible, ... only to not use those very same tools themselves properly. xCode, the premier way of writing apps for the mac OSX and iOS platform, is usable, but far from ideal. What sighted people can do with a few clicks takes a 21-step workaround for VO users. Where Apple meant to make this an easy, seamless and problem-free solution to simplify app development, it is a headache for the visually impaired. And this has been there for years now. Granted, it slightly improved in xCode 4, but it is clear to me that a blind person has never actually tested these programs for Apple. I am not referring to beta testing and bug reporting, for I am quite sure that is happening. But it appears the reports are either being ignored, or have a very low priority.
IWork suffers from the same problem when it comes to 25-step workarounds for inserting a footnote in a document, and don't even start on things like spreadsheets or powerpoint presentations.
Generally, I find the mac a very nice platform for some casual stuff. Browsing, listening to some music, doing some quick and dirty recording in garageBand, but if I need to actually code for school, want to record a well-thought out song, write up a complex essay, Windows is and has always been the platform of choice for me , because I have better things to do than hit fifty VO commands, listen to 15 'busy' 's and carefully follow workarounds every 10 minutes. Sorry Apple, you're doing a good job with iOS for sure, and OSX is not bad, but for me, its not good enough either.

Mac vs windows

I agree with some things mentioned on here. I got a Macbook air about 2 months ago and love it! I also use a laptop with windows 7 and JAWS at school, but I'm not allowed to take that laptop out of school so I only use the Mac for personal use.
The overall best feature on the Mac if you ask me is that VoiceOver is built into the operating system and its free. I didn't pay for JAWS as my school provided it, but around about £850 just for the home addition, I don't think so!
But I still agree aswell that their are a couple of things that need to be improved on the Mac side for accessibility, for example microsoft word could be made accessible, but I think that's microsoft's fault, not apples. I don't really have to do lots of complicated formatting on documents I use, I have to change the font and style of the text occasionally, and it is quite smooth on pages and on word.
1 thing I'd love to see on windows what I like on the Mac is the ability to use the mouse. I love being able to use the trackpad on the Mac. For a person who was born with no useful vision, I've liked knowing a bit about the layout of different screens which I don't have on windows.
As said on the other comments, itunes and mail are better on the Mac. I used to have a PC with windows XP and NVDA, but I got rid of it and got the Mac.
So I would say both operating systems are just as bad in terms of accessibility. Their is windows where you have to pay a stupid price for a good quality screen reader, on top of the price for a new computer if you just bought 1, and theirs the Mac, which does also cost a lot, but you only pay that 1 high price, you get a good screen reader built in, but then again isn't accessible with all the things you get on windows.

What about NVDA

I can't really contribute to the discussion, as my experience using VO on a Mac is minimal; it was disorienting and strange, but I get that it's probably just a matter of getting used to the differences. So I won't pass judgment.

However, I've noticed a motif running through a lot of the praise of VO on this thread: "The best thing about it is that it's free." If that's really one of the things that tips the scale in favor of VO for Mac, then I really think NVDA should be a part of this conversation, as well as JAWS. JAWS may be the "premier" Windows screen-reader, but if we're going to discount Windows in general just because JAWS isn't free, then it'd probably be more fair to take the issues being discussed and say, "Alright, I can or can't do that with VO...now, can I do it with NVDA on a PC?"

Just my two cents. :-)

Installing the OS

One test: Can the screen reader be used to install or reinstall the operating system?
NVDA: No.
JAWS. No.
VoiceOver: Yes.

Admittedly I don't reinstall the OS as often as I do advanced word processing (although I probably need to with my Windows machine if I want it to continue running smoothly). But having the ability to run the computer out of the box or reinstall the OS without sighted assistance is a great point in VoiceOver's favour. I love the added independence.

Hi. I have had a mac for

Hi. I have had a mac for almost 2 years and would never look back. I do have a vm running windows for a couple of things that aren't available on the mac but don't use windows that often. As for office productivity I find using a combination of text edit nisus writer express and pages suits my needs. I am doing a college course and do have access to ms word at TAFE but can write everything up on the mac and adjust the formatting just a bit in word. I have come to realize though that unless you can afford jaws or window eyes ms word isn't that good for advanced stuff with nvda. I have never used spredsheets that much and found them ok with jaws but again not so good with nvda. Then you need to look at the cost of ms office compared to i work. I can't afford ms office anyway so at least I can pretty much do everything I need to with what I have. As for the voices, I really like the way the voices read on the mac. It's actually enjoyable reading a book. Using Lee at the moment. It's good that there are choices for people and that people can use what's best for them. I also love the way itunes and the mac just seem to work together and the fact that I can write an imessage write from the mac, and if ibooks turns out to be accessible that would be totally awesome. Anyway that is just my take on things.

HI. I origenally switched to

HI. I origenally switched to the mac because of the price of jaws I admit, but There are lots of things I like better on the mac. e.g. itunes, iMessaging, mail, and web browsing. Had lots of times when jaws or nvda would go silent because Ie crashed or that error file thingy would come up etc. All you could really do was reboot your computer. Even quitting jaws sometimes wouldn't help. I very rarely lose voice over speech. also upgrading windows was a major issue for me as I don't always have someone sighted around who knows enough. I was so happy when I could update the operating system on my own and once I was even able to restore the operating system. I also love the fact that I can see where things are with the trak pad. My mac and iphone just seem to work together without much problems and if I do need windows then I can just fire up the vm and I have the best of both worlds. Frankly I just could not get used to the default voices that came with nvda no matter how hard I try. The sapi voices would slow things down to a crawl. Yep ok I probably needed a newer pc but even with friends who have relatively fast computers there seem to be problems with ie and jaws. Again just my thoughts.

forgot one other app

Hi. I forgot one other app I think works better and there doesn't seem to be a need for scripts. That's skype. I switched from skype to gw connect on windows because half the time the scripts wouldn't work right and the other half the time skype was crashing jaws or just crashing. Skype on the mac at least for what I do with it seems to just work. Once you get used to interacting with the different tables it's fine. Ok maybe there aren't that many short cuts but I find it just as easy to turn quick nav on and arrow over to accept to answer a call and do a command shift h to hang up. Skype with nvda I could never really get the hang of. That's it rant over. lol

windows or osx

I've been using a Mac since January, I use Windows at work all day but for my personal use I now use the Mac almost 100 %, some of the previous comments already point out most of the known pros and cons but I find that many of the things I struggle with with OSX have more to do with learning how to do these things instead of just assuming that some programs don't work with the Mac or work better in Windows - there are several sources of information on how to do things with the Mac such as Applevis and many others - you just need to invest some time in dealing with the learning curve. Office is the clear main disadvantage, if you have to use it you're going to need Windows which works great through VMWare Fusion. I have very little trouble with Safari and I am no expert user, the only things that JAWS handles better are bookmarking and navigating back a page to the same spot you were on, I have no doubt that Apple will address these things and others that others mentioned in this thread.

Productivity suite

Hi. I've been using Mac OS X since 2008. In my opinion, the biggest let down on the Mac is the productivity suites. With a totally inaccessible Microsoft office for the Mac, and a useable, but clunky iWorks, many just can't or won't get rid of Windows completely because of the great access that MS Office and Jaws provides. In most other regards, I think Voiceover and the Mac is on par with Windows and Jaws. Especially if you have IOS devices. The tight iCloud integration isn't easily duplicated on Windows. I think this is to be expected of course. lol.

I'm curious to know though, for those who still use Windows on a regular basis and prefer it, besides office accessibility, what do you like about Jaws and Windows in comparison to Voiceover on the Mac?

thought i'd jump in here

hi all.

I've been back in the wood works on this site for a while now. ever since I got my iphone which has been about 2 years now. I've been an avid follower and visiter of this site and Ive found it very useful, but I've just not posted on the forum. anyway I'd just like to jump in here and offer my comments on this subject. I'm an avid windows user and i love windows 7. that being said i was a jaws user only because it was bought for me first by my TVI and then by RSB now that i'm in college. which by the way is the only way that jaws is surviving is because they have government contracts. but thats a discussion for a different topic. i started getting errors with jaws about 8 months ago and i switched over to NVDA. i had heard about NVDA before, but that was 4 years ago, and it was crap back then. now it is so much better. there is nothing like NVDA for windows. its free, doesn't lag/use ram up like jaws does, it is easy to restart back up if it crashes, and not to mention all of the addons that are for NVDA that make doing things so much easier. not to mention object navigation is very intuitive and easy to use. you are also able to use the mouse.

all that being said, i tried a mac a while ago and hated it...
ok, I wouldn't say i hated it, but it was bad. control alt arrow keys just to move around? really? and interacting is so stupid. all thos key presses tangle my fingers up. this might just be because I'm new and am not used to it, but really why do you need all of those keys to do one thing where on a pc i can just hit one key, yes one key, and it does the same thing. like for instance on the applevis site here with NVDA and jaws i can just hit the letter h and it moves me down by headings. why do i have to hit three keys on a mac to do the same thing? its just so silly.

i can get a really good pc for a couple hundred bucks. the fact that a mac is 1000 dollars, you might as well get a jaws license for that much money. :P. I'd almost rather use jaws than a mac at that point. . at least i would be not boxed in with all of apple's restrictive crap.
i could get a beastly pc for that much money like 8 gb of ram and 6 or 8 cores. if not more.

wow, this is a pretty intense first post here lol.

windows / mac

hi all. I have yet to get my hands on a mac to mess with, but have a few friends who have them, and have briefly messed with them from time to time.
agreed, the hole thing of having so many key presses to do one thing seems a bit silly.
you can, in fact, use single letter navigation in a web page.
word processing is just, ... painful.
one good thing that draws me, is the ability to use the track pad.
price is miles too high. internally, its no different from a windows machine. same parts, same manufacturers, same everything. in fact, were you to take out a main board, and parts, from a mac book, and put them in front of somebody, next to a windows computers ones, they likely wouldn't be able to notice a difference.
upgrading is just miles to expensive. 110 dollars extra, on top of the current cost, to upgrade the ram? forget it, I can buy 8 GB of ram cheaper. LOL.
no num-pad? really? in today's world? ... hmm.

battery life is awesome, generally, compared to a windows machine. a lot better.
some things are accessible, and then, there are just ... odd ... twists, that make little sense. generally though, I'd lay that at the developers feet, not apples.
2 USB ports? um? what the? you generally have room for more, ... come on, this is an age where we use lots of USB devices apple, come on, think now, ...
one thing that interests me would be the ability to reinstall the system and otherwise mess around with things, without sighted help. something I of course can't do. or at least, can't do very easy. windows 8 has narrowed this down a lot. there are very few parts you can't do now.
speed? stability? all those claims? sorry, windows 8 is as good, if not better.
like I said. haven't got one right now. still thinking about getting one. but will end up running windows on it in some form or other, simply because, sorry to say, but apple's abilities in terms of the mac, are a little behind now. yes, it provides things that windows doesn't in a lot of cases, but especially in the web browsing side of things, its painful. and in a world that is more and more based in a browser, this is simply not acceptable.
now, for IOS, they have done a pretty good job. ironic, that the same voiceover gestures, with a few modifications, works so well for a touch screen. and that's the other thing. the PC world is slowly dying now. the tablets, and smart phones, are taking over. this is why I think IOS would be the better thing to look into. even word processing can be done on there. although I dare say, probably still not as good as on a windows machine, with a screen reader chucked in. but never the less, it can be done.
and I think apple themselves have realized this, and that's why more and more work is being devoted over to working on IOS, then the mac stuff. simply because, IOS / mobile platforms, is where its all at these days. the money isn't in the PC world any more.

Oh, and a mac is a PC, BTW. LOL.

Dallas

Comparing Windows and the Mac

One of the biggest things I see in comparing Windows and Mac is stability. I have to use windows at work and the number of programs that "stop responding" astounds me even after this many years. Also, the fact that one can reinstall the OS on a Mac completely without sighted help where you still can't install windows independently again after all this many years.

I have been seeing comments here where people feel web navigation is too hard or requires too many keystrokes to accomplish on the Mac. Let me mention the Quick Nav option where you press the left and right arrow keys at the same time; this is a toggle and when toggled on, there are numerous single keys that can be pressed to move around a web page like in the windows screen readers. Yes, it is a toggle that can be forgotten and mess you up but you can get into the same trouble with jaws' forms mode or Window-Eyes' browse mode. My experiences over the past year and a half is that I find my web browsing activity to go much more smoothly on the mac than I can ever get in windows.

To address the issue that iOS is beating out PCs and all, that is statistically true but you can't dump Macs entirely. All these nice little apps people work and play with on their iPhones need to be developed and that is done on the Mac using Xcode. So the Mac is viable no matter what others say.

I suggest when people compare the screen reader experiences among these platforms, try and learn as much about how to use them before saying you can't do something with it. Example from this thread would be the quick navigation features in VoiceOver.

2 usb ports?

Hi. Dalas, you said there were only 2 usb ports on the macs you saw? Hmmm strange I have 4 on my mac mini.

browser navigation, etc

agree with James' comments, first letter navigation works just fine using 'quick nav on', also, regarding the gripes about having to interface with some screen elements, I don't find it a big deal using the trackpad, the two finger flick gesture right or left interacts and stops interacting, no big deal at all, and once I remapped my VO keys to the Caps lock keywith a free utility, the number of key presses for VO commands is similar to other screen readers. So again, the things that seem difficult to do with voiceover have more to do with learning how to do them, it's unrealistic to expect that you can use voiceover exactly like you use JAWS so there is a learning curve. Voiceover is not perfect, several things need improvement, most of them mentioned in this thread, but I hope people don't perceive JAWS and Windows as perfect, I'm a fairly experienced Windows/JAWS user and know better than that. People mentioned that Macs are really no different than PC's they're all the same inside - really, people? I got a Mac mini in January, smaller than my router, cost me $79 dollars to buy 16gb of RAM which I installed myself by twisting off (no tools involved) the bottom cover. The mini has a fusion drive, it runs fast and flawless, even Windows runs on it better than on any PC I've owned. PC's are cheaper no arguing that, so a cheap PC with NVDA is a nice solution if budget is an issue. I do enjoy using my Mac a lot, email, skype, twitter with the free Yurufukorou app is awesome, iTunes, etc work a lot smoother with VO, and my mini with 4 USB 3.0 ports screams, I have to use a PC for work but can't imagine going back to one for personal use.

mac's

hi. yes, mac mini's have 4 USB ports, but desktops / little desktop replacements are far from the main. laptops are. and in that area, apple fails the USB side by only having 2 on most as far as i have seen.
course, if they got rid of the mostly useless thunderbolt, they'd have more room for usb 3 connecters.
agreed, its easy enough to upgrade the ram in a mac mini. pitty they forgot to make the hard drive a little more upgradeable, without having to strip almost everything out of it first. lol. ram is one thing, but i'd like to put in a pure ssd if i get a mac mini, without paying apple's way to expensive charge for selling me a factory made one with it in.
yes, quick nav lets you use the single letter nav. that's good, but only solves a few problems. how ever, each to their own. i guess it also depends on what you do in terms of browsing. some of the simpler stuff is fine this way. other stuff, not so much. but that really depends on what you do with your browser.

one thing i'd love to play with, is the wireless trackpads you can get. love the idea of having a little pad in my hands, where ever i go in the house, and navigating the system. i mean, sure, you can do that with a wireless keyboard, but love the idea of the touch pad with track pad commander turned on. very cool. and you can get some very cool logitech ones for cheaper then apple's own, although i don't know what differences if any there would be.
oh, and as for the comment about IOS apps needing a mac to create, that's true, yes. but only because apple have made it so. the iPad for example, is more then powerful enough to handle all that. and in fact, if you look at what apple is doing, they are shifting more and more of their stuff over to IOS. mac's aren't dead, and won't be for a while yet. I'm not saying they are. but that comment is only true, because apple wants it to be.

mac mini

oh, and while i think of it, I wander if anybody can answer this one. i know it was possible at one time, with the older mac mini's, to run them without a monitor plugged in. is this still true of the new ones, or is that no longer possible. if it is possible, how?
because if i were to get a mac mini, i really do not want to buy a monitor. waist of money, space, and all that.

interacting.

HI. it's also possible to interact with quick nav on using the down and right arrow to interact and down and left arrow to stop interacting. This feels pretty natural to me now.

about productivity

While the IWork package needs work, it is not imposible to use. Taking the time to sit down and totaly forget about how another screen reader works helps learning something new, because you are not always comparing. I have written major papers on my mac with an application called IText express. The application is simple, provides information that I find hard to access in microsoft word, and I find that voice over and spell cueck is a bit less clunky. When brousing the web, I tend to use a combination fo doadering on the track pad, and my arow keys with quick nav.

Another thing with word processing, a problem that a lot of people have when editing large documents is that voice over skips out of the edit window. Interacting is your friend!

installign the os

when installing windows, its all in knowing a key sequance. Ault n twice, ault a to agree to the terms, ault n, and hold on. Then windows u to start narater. I am an avade mac user, but I just wanted to play both sides and say it is a pain but not imposible.

Dallas...

Like you say, to each his own, the Mini makes sense for my purposes, which way the industry is going is one thing, but it still makes sense to me to have a dedicated desktop environment where the very small Mini is connected to my peripherals like OCR camera, etc., my iPhone does the job for my mobile use. Don't know what you mean by browsing on the Mac is only for the 'simpler stuff' and depends on 'what you do with your browser' - I mean we already know flash doesn't work, otherwise simple and complex pages work just as well provided you take time to learn to use voiceover with Safari. When I have trouble with a page I sometimes run Fusion to try the page with JAWS or NVDA and most of the time they do no better. Anyway, all this stuff has been talked about a lot in several threads here, it's obvious that there is a case for Mac or Windows depending on your specific needs, budget situation, etc. but one thing is for sure, if you switch from Windows you can't expect to type JAWS commands and expect it to work, you have to invest some time in learning Voiceover and OSX and if you don't, it doesn't mean that the Mac is only capable of doing simple stuff.

navigating back to the same spot

> only things that JAWS handles better are bookmarking and navigating back a page to the same spot you were on

if you want the behavior of navigating back to the same spot, use command-return to open a link. this will open the link in a new tab. when you are done, command-w to close the tab and return to the previous spot.
the reason is when you open a new link, often the previous window or tab closed; and when you use the back button to go back, the page will be reloaded.
some link will open a new window, but that will only happen if the html author specify that behavior.

My Journey Towars Mac

I'm finding a lot of comments here useful, being a new Mac user from Windows. I do wonder which free app can be used to map the VO keys to the caps lock key?

After a few months I'm getting better with Safari, but still struggling with some things. I would like to move to the end of lists or tables on a webpage, as I do in JAWS by pressing greater-than. I see that Safari lets me move to the next element, but that isn't the same thing as moving to the bottom of the current one.

I don't like having to tell it to interact with the html all the time. There doesn't seem to be any advantage to not interacting with it: nothing in those tool bars and bookmarks that I can't access through the menus. So couldn't I just lock it in html interaction mode?

I'm getting used to quick nav, thanks in part to people's comments here, and it's making life a lot easier. But the idea of choosing between DOM mode or Group mode throws me. I just want to read through the webpage. If I were to save the page as an html file, then open it in a word processor, it would just be there. To go to the next line you would down arrow, and so on. Safari doesn't give me that feeling that the page is just text. The formatting of the text should be secondary, but Safari doesn't give me that feeling.

Thanks everyone for the perspectives in this thread.

Thoughts from a Newcomer to the Site

Hi everybody. I would first like to say that I've known about this website for a little while but just registered over the weekend. I am getting some form of Mac to replace both my PC's hopefully sooner rather than later. I've had my desktop PC since November of 2007, and it's starting to be infested by gremlins. My parents gave me a laptop PC for Christmas a few years ago, thanks 'rents! However, the motherboard fried and that's kind of a long story. I had been hearing mostly good things about the Mac in general and Voiceover specifically. Back on the Windows side of the aisle, I started out a JAWS user and at the time I absolutely loved it. It was and still is pricey but I loved it. I could accomplish everything with it that I set out to do on my computer. I also found Henter-Joyce's and then Freedom Scientific's tech support/customer service to be excellent. But when I got to Windows Vista for some reason JAWS no longer worked that great for me. It was around that time when I began using System Access and System Access to Go from Serotek. I had heard good things about it so I ran a trial version, and I became hooked so I started as a paying Serotek customer. It was also around that time when I read about the first public release of NVDA. So I grabbed myself a copy and really liked it. Both Serotek and the NV Access Foundation have really worked hard to make their respective screen readers both great and affordable, and I think it shows. I have since had computer issues, as I alluded to at the beginning of this comment. There is one feature of System Access, though, which I don't believe any other product for the visually impaired has. Somebody please correct me if I'm mistaken here. That feature is SAMNet, the System Access Mobile Network. Or perhaps this is better characterized as an add-on or an overlay. One section of SAMNet allows users to create and manage their own websites and blogs, and I'm wondering if there are currently any accessible Mac apps either free or commercial that do that. Preferably free though. I realize I've probably gone off on somewhat of a tangent here, but that is what I'm using for my website. I've heard Voiceover demonstrated in a few podcasts, and it sounds fantastic. I can hardly wait to prove that point, or disprove it as the case may be

Well not sure what to say

Well not sure what to say about microsoft word being accessible on the mac. Not sure whose problem that is actually.
I've been using a mac for almost 6 years now and I don't feel there is anything that I can't accomplish with the mac. Glad I don't have to use windows any longer. Just too unstable in comparison. I guess my point is that it creates all sorts of uncertainty when people try to compare products between mac and pc. Well if you can do this with this keystroke on the pc then there should be this equivalent keystroke on the mac to accomplish the same task, and, as the song says, "it ain't necessarily so.". I feel like apple mail is way better than outlook and easier to use and more stable. There are several editing and word processing options on the mac, text edit, pages, Latex which is a powerful editor and others. I think Text Edit is a powerful little word processor/editor in its own right that will accomplish many tasks. And while pages did have some accessibility problems at first it is getting better. I guess I don't understand how you can say that word processing is ruled out on the mac. I guess it all comes down to what specific needs do you have in one word processor that you can't accomplish with another. I don't touch word on Windows. Don't think like it does. I use a word processor on windows if I ever have too called "nota Bene" which is a truly dedicated word processor that puts other windows programs to shame. But these days my needs are such that I use the mac exclusively. One of my problems with Word is that it started off as a pretty good word processor although never as good and useable as WordPerfect. Then word became huge and tried to be more than just a word processor, a graphics program, html editor and more. Jaws did the same thing when it tried to become more than a screenreader. Jaws has had 15 or 20 years in the accessibility market to get it right and I can't say that they have. Apple has been at it for maybe 8-9 years and they've done a remarkable job. Just think what could have happened if MicroSoft had done for windows what apple has done for voiceover and their os when windows was first released.
Well I know I'm rambling; it is 6 a.m. and the coffee has not kicked in yet. Just my thoughts and response to your message.

web pages

Jake!
I've never used SamNet so I can not say for sure about its features. But I believe that web pay design on the mac is definitely do-able. It depends on how much experience you might have but you can use editors to hand code your pages or use an app designed for that purpose. I've used rapid weaver in the past and there are all the CMS packages that will let you do your own page. Good luck with your transition from Windows to mac.

Samnet

Hi Jake. I'm not sure about other options for web pages on Mac. But I do believe that you can use Samnet on Mac in the Chrome browser, although I've never done so myself. you could then subscribe to just Samnet and drop your subscription to System Access if you didn't need that product anymore. It's probably worth contacting Serotek to confirm it. Also you might be interested to know that you can get their DocuScan Plus product in the Mac App Store.
HTH

mac / windows / tablet computers

hi all. well, after now having had my iPad for about 2 weeks, i can say, that it's kinda cool. not sure if i like it fully yet, the screen being so much bigger then an iphone or an iPod touch. but never the less, it's kinda neet. anyways, besides that. the points about the mac / osX being so much more stable then windows, .. uh, well, have you used the latest in windows? sure, if you compair it to xp, it's going to whin. lol. almost anything will beat xp these days. mac, ipad, iphone, .... lol. but windows 7, at the very least, or moving up to windows 8 or windows 8.1, is wayyyy more stable then xp or vista ever were. so you can't really compair your mac experiences over the last say, 5 years, to old windows / old jaws / old NVDA. you really need to compair them in terms of both systems being the most up to date. so for example, forget osx mountain lion. that's last years stuff. mavericks is the way to go now. so, compair osx mavericks, to windows 8.1, which is the latest edition of windows, and to be quite honest, they aren't all that different. yes, the mac, with itunes, and garageband, and the App Store, and iMessages, and all that, has it's advantages. but when it comes down to how each system runs, and what it can do outside what comes on the device itself from the shop, they are mostly the same now. in fact, they even kinda look the same on the screen. lol.
of course, a few thing to bare in mind. imessages are useless on a mac, unless you have a lot of people on your contacts that have apple things. not all that usefull for contacting anybody outside apple.
and of course itunes will work better. i mean, it's apples software, running on apple's hardware.
as for apple mail, i can say that i'm not all that impressed. i prefer iOS mail, to apple mail on a mac. seems to clunky and complex for what it needs to be. but there you go. each to their own.
course, i use NVDA on windows, so that's free. and as good as NVDA is getting these days, it's doing very well for me now. i will never again pay for jaws. lol. not going to pay for access to a computer. if nvda ever fails, and i have to go to jaws, i'll buy a mac before i do that.
but of course, the cost of windows based tablets, and windows based low end laptops of what ever type, are getting very cool. they are so cheap now, it's not funny. i mean, i can get a tablet, running a full version of windows 8.1, for about 350 bucks. lol.
anyways, i'll leave you with this so far. just thought i'd add a bit to the convo.

Thought I'd 'revisit This Topic

Thought I'd revisit this topic, since I got my Mac and have been playing around with it for almost a month. When I first brought it back to my parents' house on the day we got it at our local Apple store, I tried to do a few things but the whole interface just felt weird and confusing to me. I tried to follow along in the on-board Voiceover tutorial, but I gave up shortly after starting it because I couldn't keep up. However, I have since learned some things about Voiceover and really like it. Some of the Voiceover commands require more key presses than perhaps other screen readers, but I am able to perform them just fine on here. I really like the physical design of my Mac Book Air. It is very lightweight, and I'm amazed that there is absolutely no fan noise. Not that fan noise from a computer was really ever a problem for me before, but I was honestly expecting at least a slight hum. But I can't even hear that. People tell me though, that the fan can really get going as more things are put on these systems. The battery life is also really good on here, at 12 hours. I was pleasantly surprised the first time I charged the battery on here. I was expecting a full charge to take at least 3 hours. One thing I'm a bit disappointed in is the lack of an audible low-battery alarm or other such notification. But perhaps I'm just missing something, not sure. I'm going to my parents' house this weekend to celebrate my birthday, and I'm bringing along the Mac. I've asked my mom to help me out with some credit card info that apparently has to be submitted before I can download anything including software updates. I was able to independently configure my AT&T email account to work on here, and I must say I'm impressed with the default Apple email client. Safari isn't bad either. I'm finding that I can live with the quirks thus far. I have yet to delve into word processing and other stuff on here. So I guess in summary I'm pretty impressed with the Mac so far.