Whats better, Windows with JAWS or a Mac with VO?

macOS and Mac Apps
Hey guys So it's got to the point where my browsers are no longer compatible with my version of JAWS for windows screen reader. Using JAWS 10 on Windows 7. Anyhow, for now, I can browse and watch vids online using my iPhone, but when I go back to education I will need a compatible and functioning screen reader. As users of Macs, I was wondering if you could answer a few questions: Can you get microsoft word/excell/powerpoint to work on your Mac? Are files saved on macs usable with windows? TBH, i'm not too bothered about the learning curve, I love learning new gadgets, it's just a case of whether it will be suitable for uni purposes. I know my DSA would probs pay for a laptop with JAWS or whatever, but I want something concrete if that makes sence... Thanks :-)



Submitted by Shersey on Sunday, May 27, 2012

It supports the latest versions of Firefox and Internet Explorer. Not sure about Safari support on Windows, and Chrome has some issues--though that's on the Chrome side, not NVDA. There is a bit of a learning curve, but if you're good at picking up things from manuals, you shouldn't have too much trouble. There's a mailing list--not sure what the address is--and lots of people on Twitter who use it, including myself. Website is here: http://www.nvda-project.org Also, it's open source, so it's updated a lot faster than commercial screen readers. It uses Espeak as it's synthesizer, which is free and open source--I believe--and it takes some getting used to, but it's not horrible. It also supports SAPI 4 and 5, and the Mmicrosoft Speech Platform as well, though I haven't tried this out--I should. I've heard good things about the voices. It also supports the Pico and Festival synthesizers, if you are at all interested. There is also a very quick way to change things like voice/rate/pitch/volume/Espeak variant on the fly. Oh, and it is truly portable! No authorization for the computer you plug your USB stick into, no video intercept managers being installed, nothing added to the regestry--it's completely self-contained on the stick, so you can take it anywhere! I once had to do this when a computer at college had a really, really old version of JAWS on it that didn't work with the 2007 version of Excell they had installed on the machine, and NVDA handled things great! Suffice it to say, I do not use JAWS anymore, especially now that I learned how to use NVDA's object navigation and flat review, which are sort of equivelants to the JAWS cursor. A little better, in fact, because they allow you to narrow your focus quickly to a specific part of the screen! And NVDA's flash support for videos is awesome! Anyhow, I hope you give it a whirl!

Submitted by Kevan on Sunday, May 27, 2012

JAWS is horrible and seems to get buggier and more bloted with every release. NVDA's free, and while the Office support isn't as perfect as JFW's I hope it'll get there soon. If you need something to support Office, try System Access, it's cheaper than JFW, but unless I'm wrong, it's got decent MS Office support. I myself am a full NVDA user, and never have to load up JAWS, and seriously, 1000 bucks for a screen reader is way too much.

Submitted by Fleet on Monday, May 28, 2012

In reply to by Kevan

1. Office 2011 for Mac does not work with Voiceover. iWork kind of does, but there are limitations (see the thread called "Mac for College" where I wrote about this. 2. You can save files from your Mac in .rtf, .doc and many other Windows-compatible formats. Don't worry about that. Just pay attention to the popup button where you choose the format you're saving in when you save, and when in doubt use RTF, and you'll be fine. Also, yes to NVDA. Consider JAWS only if you need really good Excel/Powerpoint support frequently enough that using it on a public computer at school/the library wouldn't make sense. Also, I noticed that you mentioned that your DS office would probably give you whatever you request. That's great, but I hope that one of the things they give you is a decent assessment. When I entered college, I got about an hour's worth of some guy showing me one screen reader, one notetaker and one OCR software package. I work in the field now and I would like to opine that informed choice means not just that they should buy you stuff, but that they should walk you through your options. You have the right to go to an assessment center: if there isn't one near you, they can send you to one in your region. You should be checking out multiple screen readers, the Mac/PC issue, OCR options, book reading and note taking options, and perhaps CCTVs and Braille displays. Sending you home with ten thousand dollars worth of random swag, Bob Barker style, is not even remotely cool.

Submitted by Nicolai Svendsen on Monday, May 28, 2012

In reply to by Fleet

This is mainly in regards to the comment above regarding Office 2011 on the Mac. It's actually kind of funny, because the Office 2011 works on the Mac except the most important areas, which are the text areas. This means you can go through menus, apply options, but you can't read contents. I also contacted them about this, but they either seemed unaware of the access or seemed to just kind of shrug it off when I called. E-mail didn't do much better. Just to explain something here. The trouble with Office-documents is that you often get incompatible form elements and fonts when using non-Office tools, and this applies to OS X as well. This means that, for instance, Pages will attempt to substitute one font with something that looks at least vaguely similar, or apply a very similar style but without the drop shadows you would otherwise see when using Office under Windows or the OS X version. I have found a workaround for this. A somewhat ridiculous approach, and I think it isn't intended to be used this way, but it works at any rate for seemingly any third party productivity tools which read any Office documents like Excel, PPTX or DOCX and so-forth.. Inside the Office installer regardless of the language you downloaded, you have various packages. The Office installer itself simply installs them all, but you can also manually apply them without installing the Office suite. This means that there is a particular package you would want to use. Office2011_all_fonts.pkg This one includes all the elements used in Office, as well as all the fonts that Pages warns you about and tries to either remove or replace. At least, I'm pretty sure it does, since I haven't had a single warning in any complex documents yet and I can even apply the new options as long as the tool I am using is able to add forms. The best part of this is that you can essentially get this package from someone who has it. As previously mentioned, the package is language independent, does not require any validation and does not invoke the Microsoft Office 2011 Assistant to request a trial license. All the package does is install the fonts, elements and so-forth within the correct locations, and Microsoft installs these in a convenient place so any application can use them. As for using a Mac at uni, it's perfectly doable. As someone who has been doing it for years, I've had no problems that couldn't be resolved. I've had issues, but primarily when others have tried to create documents on my Mac due to unfamiliarity with the tools. When handling Word-documents, I tend to use Nisus Writer Pro it has some advanced features that Pages does not have, and some of them you may find useful. As for Keynote, that's not my favourite tool, but it can be worked with. I actually tend to produce my University Powerpoint representations on my iPhone, because I just like the way it works a little more than I do on the Mac. That having been said, despite that I'm a primary Mac user and honestly prefer OS X over Windows, a freen screen reader like NVDA on Windows has much better support for document elements like headings and tables. Right now, VoiceOver pretty much does not announce tables. VoiceOver can read document tables, but cannot tell that it is a table and you may get stuck inside them. VoiceOver is fantastic at tables on the web, but falls far short of what is to be expected in a document. This applies to other document forms as well, unfortunately.

is you are eligible for DSA, get a JAWS upgrade. Why waste all the expertise you've built up over the years with JAWS for the sake of getting something that is far less capable. Unless your degree is in Assistive Technology, don't waste your time learning another screen reader. When you get a job, you will almost certainly be using JAWS so keep ahead of the game and keep your JAWS skills current.

1300 dollars for a screen reader, plus $200 upgrades does not automatically make any screen reader more capable. Also, NVDA provides support for OpenOffice. You have to install JAVA and the JAVA Access Bridge, but it's accessible after doing so. If the only raved-about feature JAWS can clame for an update is OCR support, then something is way wrong. They should have included that a few years ago, in my opinion. It seems to me that the days of the extremel expensive screen readers are numbered. Already, lots of people are switching to NVDA because they either don't want to pay for, or cannot afford to pay for, an upgrade to the screen reader they have. Object navigation and flat review aren't too hard to learn, and there are plenty of people willing to help. Beyond that, many of the commands are the same--such as moving to headings, radio buttons, check boxes, lists, and such. I just think JAWS has become too bloated in the past few updates. Do we really need a feature such as research it? This is why we have the internet. JAWS takes a while to load--it's a resource hog. NVDA loads quickly. And I realize I'm ranting, so I'll shut up. I'm just saying, NVDA should not be taken lightly. People are abandoning other screen readers for it.

Thanks for your feedback guys, i have established that macs r not good for uni purposes, The main issue is jaws v nvda, to my knowledge, nvda doesnt work with powerpoint, any solutions to this problem? X

Submitted by JT on Monday, May 28, 2012

In reply to by Shersey

It's lovely that people all around the world are willing to give up there most precious resource to help there fellow visually impaired people by contributing to a free screen reader such as NVDA. I'd never suggest anyone spend there own money on JAWS for home use, but let's not kid ourselves. If you need to use a screen reader in a work environment, making professional use of applications such as Word, Excell and Power Point, NVDA is not yet as capable as both JAWS and Window Eyes. If you have either of these programs and can get access to the latest versions for free, either through virtue of either being a student or working, there is no reason whatsoever to throw away years of skill and ability to move to a less capable product. It's easy to slag off companies such as FS and to complain about the price of JAWS. It's easy because there are at last free alternatives that offer the features needed by most home users. However, I've been employed for the past fifteen years, all that time I've used JAWS. for the whole of those fifteen years, the upgrades I've purchased has gone towards the cost of employing programmers to bring out a new version every year. The thing to realise about new versions of software such as JAWS is this, you aren't really paying for the new features. They have to add new features, because otherwise people would complain even more. No, what you are paying for is the updated code and scripts that allows you to use the latest version of Windows, or Office, or IE. Jaws is expensive, but finally there are free alternatives for everyone to use and there is funding in the UK for people in education and employment to have the cost of buying JAWS covered by the government. I hate people giving advice to fellow visually impaired users on the basis of there own biased view and not that based on giving the person the best individual advice for there situation!

Hi JT, I concede the point on getting the next SMA for JAWS from rehab. Why not, absolutely. However, I disagree that if someone is doing a degree outside the AT field they should stick to one screen reader. Many of the most efficient users I know employ different screen readers depending on the task, especially those who work in music, production, or STeM fields. Here's one example: when using Windows speech recognition, JAWS doesn't echo back the dictated text but System Access does. So, when I do dictation and don't have my Braille display, I run SAToGo. I also think that learning multiple screen readers teaches a person flexibility, problem-solving and structural literacy skills that will come in handy every time that person has to confront new hardware or software at work, in school or in life. I just attended a keynote by the CEO of the Carroll Center, who came up through the AT ranks, and he made these same points.

Submitted by Piotr Machacz on Monday, May 28, 2012

The way I see it is MAC works for everything except complex text editting/spreadsheets, and totally fails with slideshows. I've heard that Google docs nowhas accessibility in the presentation part of it, you can use it with chrome and chromevox on the mac. If you like you can just run windows in a VM which is probably what I'll end up doing. Thoughts on that bellow. Getting JAWS is definitely not something I would do. It's just expensive and doesn't keep up with releases as you've yourself pointed out. I do know that system access works with Office. As for pricing, the cheepest for SA is $10 a month, or you can just use satogo which is free.

As someone who speaks HAL, JAWS, VoiceOver and Window Eyes, i can't argu against being able to use more than one. AT is my business though, if I didn't need to use more than one I wouldn't and if it wasn't my business, I'd want to use the one that gave me the most freedom. I wouldn't handycap myself by not using the best system. We are blessed by so much choice these days that it is a pleasure to engage in this sort of discussion. It would be horrible if there was only one screen reader, you'd be locked into waiting for OS updates for bug fixes and new features, you'd only get the new features the OS maker wanted you to have, you would only be able to use the apps the OS maker allowed you to use except for a small number of apps, perhaps one in each category. This is starting to remind me of something. Finally, I've found enough challenges being blind for the past 27 years without having to waste my life learning new access technology to grow as a person. I repeat, sighted students are getting on with studying, getting drunk and other things than learning to use unnecessary software on there Mac books!

Submitted by John Farina on Monday, May 28, 2012

Hi folks, I think what the rest of the folks have already said are good points to ponder when you are looking at any assistive technology. However, I like what was said about not throwing away your skills at a time when you are returning to an intense situation as school can be for some people. As an assistive technology instructor I like to learn things and may learn about a mac at some point. All that being said, whatever technology one uses it is important to keep up with updates. It might be just as simple for you to consider asking rehab services to simply update your current version of the jaws program and run with that. Unless of course you really need access to computers at school rather than using your own. In order to take advantage if whatever enhancements are provided in any assistive technology, we must always be ready and willing to ensure the equipment we use is updated to the most current version. For most of us that is simply a cost of doing buisness, and by the way, that is true whether one is sighted or blind.

It really depends on what you are looking for in the OS. If your looking for productivity then Macs are not it. MS office doesn't work at all on a Mac. If you need to work on a document Pages is not accessible and textedit which is like Wordpad in windows isn't sufficient for documents, spreadsheets, and power points. Macs are great for people who are really into audio. If you are not ok with learning a new operating system then a Mac isn't for you. Hope this helps, Eagle Scout Aaron Linson

hi, i've got a mac yeah the productivity side isn't great but i don't use slideshows or powerpoints as yet so i'm alright. as for the screenreader thing, i used jaws up until i got a mac, and i really liked it. VO is free, you pay the money for the mac and that's it, no upgrade fees to voiceover, only to the next mac OS which is around 20 pounds. voiceover isn't perfect, neither is jaws, but what is? i've used NVDA to and i really like it, it's great how it's come on in the last few years. voiceover too has come on in leaps and bounds since lepard. apple weren't great for accessibility until a few years ago, but they've made up for it since then.

Submitted by Felix on Friday, September 7, 2012

Damn sure NVDA is great, but the installation of additional voices is a bit quirky. My sighted cousin still unable to install them.

Submitted by Darrell Bowles on Friday, September 7, 2012

Hello to all of you, I am new on this site but I do ahve some things to point out. 1. I have been a JAWS user for a long time practically since 1998. I have seen it develope from dos to windows 95, whare dectalk was the default synthesizer to JAWS a multi featured program. NOw, you are probably asking your selfvs, is this another attack on freedom scientific? Well yes and no. It is not because there is finally compitition in the AT market, and people have options. WHen I was younger, there was JAWS, and Olny JAWS. NOw there is JAWS, NVDA, System access, WIndow-eyes, and now the mack. You asked if the mack would be better for school and I have read this thread very carefully. Well quite truthfully it depends on what you want to do with it. People are right to say don't go out of your comfort zone just because something is cool. However consider the choices you have on windoes. NVDA, though not as feature rich as JAWS, does work better than jaws in some places. System access, though not as well known or as feature rich as JAWS is quite stable and afordable. If your VR agiency can give you the upgrade, then perhaps you should stick with it, but more and more scrren-reading technology is keeping pace with if not outstripping freedomscientific, wich is one of the reasons I believe that they are trying to come up with extra features like research it, and and the OCR option. If you stick with JAWS, that's great just at least consider your options. It's a pain being tied to one computer and oly one computer why not use NVDA or a USB drive, or heck, even system access on a drive. You would have access to any windows computer. I atend Pelissippi state, and there are only a handfull of JAWS ready machines. So, when I don't have access to one, I plug my SA ready drive, and off I go. And as far as that goes, it's all in what you the consummer want. If you need things like research it, and the OCR option, then jaws is what you need, but seriously if you don't have to pay nearly 1800 dollars for a screen-reader, why should you? Thank you very much and GOd Bless, Darrell

Submitted by Maria on Saturday, September 8, 2012

HI. I used to be a jaws user, and switched to a mac for various reasons. We don't get funding in australia for jaws, unless we have a job. I wanted a system I would always have available and not have to worry about purchasing upgrades for jaws I couldn't afford etc. Yes I could have got a system and put nvda on it, but if something goes terribly wrong and nvda stopped being developed for some reason then what? I asked a lot of questions and after doing my homework decided to switch to the mac. I have not regretted the decision. I do run a vm for when i need todo something on windows, but I primarily use the mac. I am doing a certificate 4 course in training and assessment and at the moment use a combination of pages, text edit and text express. Haven't needed to do presentations yet, but may do that at college with sighted help anyway. For writing reports etc, and researching, the mac works great. I'm told my documents look fine. I don't mind so about tables because i never really liked them in jaws anyway. Have always tables difficult to navigate, even with jaws. I do't present stuff in tables unless i really have to. Saving everything in rtf seems to open ok on a windows computer. anyway that's just my experience. I hope this helps someone.

Submitted by synthesizer101 on Saturday, September 8, 2012

Firstly, the *actual* point of this topic: The mac is not as good as windows for productivity, as has said many others. Having said that, my mac runs windows in a boot camp partition for when I use productivity (more than the occational write-up). I got a mac because I do professional audio editing and am learning IOS coding, but if you are not interested in these, then some of the best features of macs don't matter to you. Macs are still great, but simply getting one without specific applications would be wasteful. Now, the JAWS vs NVDA debate: Here is my situation. I have a registered (yes, I said registered) version of JAWS 11 on my computer. I do not use it much. Instead, I use NVDA. There is only one program that I use JAWS for, and that is because the company that makes it has not yet made it accessible to NVDA. I find office support better in NVDA, because I only use word and excel. NVDA easily indicates formatting changes, mispellings, etc. Installing voices is very easy, especially in the new version with add-on support. NVDA is lightweight primarily because it has not added thousands of useful features. For example, OCR was one of freedom scientific's good ideas, so NVAccess found free and open source components and made an OCR engine for NVDA too. They don't include it by default, so people who don't use it don't have to drag along all the files, but it is there for free for anyone who would use it.

Submitted by mehgcap on Saturday, September 8, 2012

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team
I used windows for years, from seventh grade up through college. A few months after graduating, I got a mac and put windows on it (via bootcamp), and slowly learned the mac way of doing things. A year later, I use the mac all the time, booting windows only when I want to play an audio game. Admittedly, I don't need powerpoint or complex document features, so textEdit works fine for my purposes. I have also not yet tried to program on the mac. Part of what I love about the mac is the "ecosystem". That is, my iPod and mac are always in sync with reminders, calendars, contacts, emails, and so on, which will be even more useful once I get an iPhone. I also love how easy and accessible operating system updates and app installations are. As for jaws versus nvda: I'm an nvda user and have been ever since I got my mac (jaws failed to authorize itself, so I got nvda as a temporary fix and just never returned to jaws). For my purposes - email, web browsing, playing media, doing basic editing with audacity - it works perfectly. I'm even used to the default eSpeak voice, and now prefer it to most other synthesizers out there (though that took over a month of constant use). I realize the above is not a "buy this one" response, but hopefully it offers something else to think about. Please let me know if you have any questions about the mac or nvda.