Moving to the Mac from Windows

Low Vision Accessibility on Apple Products
Hello, I am in the process of purchasing a Mac Book Pro. I have used a PC since before Windows. I have been shopping around and like the Mac Book Pro but I can't completely leave Windows behind due to my career. Talked with some people including sales at Apple and everyone says good things about VMware Fusion and not so good things about parallels. I spoke with the folks at AiSquared since I use Zoom text but nobody seems to know if Zoom text will work in the VMware Fusion environment. Tech Support at AiSquared said that they have successfully installed and ran Zoom Text in Parallels but never even heard of Fusion. Has anyone in this group and/or reading this had any experience with installing and running Zoom text in either of these environments? Thank you, Ken



Submitted by frank perry on Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hello. Please accept my apologies if this post seems a little too long. It is important of course, that you are able to continue your current line of work for your current employer. There is something which is even more important however. It is your current eye sight. For instance, is your eye sight deteriating or going too in the future? Only you and your doctor will know the answer to this question. My advice is to disclose part of your medical situation to your employer, especially if there is a chance of deterioration. In relation to windows on apple Mac, my recommendation is the parallel option rather than the fusion options around. To put it simply, this will help both your eye sight and your employer in the long run. It is important to note apple mac already has an inbuilt zoom feature on its own operating system. It is one of the features of the apple o s system I like very much, because it is extremely easy to use takes 5 minutes to learn even for a novice with the apple o s system. You can even use the feature without voice over speaking to you at all. The parallel option will allow you, especially if there is a chance of your eye sight deteriating, to start using the zoom text keystrokes, and later on keystrokes associated with other windows screen readers should the need arise. There is no need for you to buy Jaws or window eyes as a paid screen reader, even if your eye sight becomes so bad you can no longer use zoom text with windows. There is a very good windows free screen reader at You could simply use this one for any speech feedback you needed, or to get you out of a sticky or tight spot now and then. Zoomtext works fine with both options, both parallel and fusion, but delivers the best performance with the parallel option on an apple mac. One question worth asking your employer is this. Is it really necessary for my future work with you to use windows at all. Apple Mac will read any windows document, will convert pdf without the hassle of learning how to do it with any other windows screen reader, works with windows media files, works with hotmail, m s n, windows live messenger, and no windows operating system is required at all. Transfering files from mac to a windows computer is an absolutely simple process, there are a number of options, usb sticks, email from the mac to a windows computer and so on. In the end, the final decision as to whether you buy an apple Mac and you choose to use it with windows is yours to make, but I seriously recommend discussing this with your employer. If your employer is worried that it will slow your work down, because you have to learn another operating system, I can tell you from my personal experience, a couple of weeks with the apple mac operating system, and you and your employer will never want to see the windows operating system ever again. I am not an apple salesperson, I have no shares in apple, but I'll never go back to windows, my employer bought my apple Mac and they are extremely happy because my productivity has increased, and I am a much happier worker now days. I also have partial sight. If you're worried about reading powerpoint presentations created by windows or xl spreadsheets, again, apple has a number of options, iWork open office etc. I know this sounds like I'm marketing apple products, like you, I was a sworn windows user, my sight started going bad, when my employer and I discovered all the costs of windows screen readers and other third party software, and we put it against an already accessible apple mac, we knew what would be the most cost effective option for both parties. Needless to say, the apple mac wins hands down in the end. We considered the n v d a option, but one thing people should consider is that as it is a free screen reader, it can sometimes take time for it to develop the necessary scripts. The question you have to ask yourselves is am I prepared to wait or to have my work slowed down whilst I wait in good faith for them to catch up? Or wouldn't it be easier if I just simply used an operating system which is accessible straight away? Again, the final answers will be up to you.

Submitted by Ken Ewing on Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In reply to by frank perry

Thank you for your quick response. My vision is unstable and I am losing vision over time. I plan to continue using my current Windows machine until the transition to Mac is complete. I understand I will need to learn how to use VoiceOver and the magnification on the Mac since both are going to work differently than on my iPhone. So, just like when I got the iPhone, I expect a learning curve. During this transition period, I will use my Windows machine as I always have and plan to move completely over to the Mac never to look back. The reason I am looking to have Windows on the Mac using a VM environment is because I am an Assistive Technology Trainer (self employed) and will often need to refer to the Windows side to assist my students with new software and versions of software in which they may be using and/or have problems. Instead of carrying around two machines, with Virtual Machine I will only carry one and still do my job effectively in the field. Zoom Text is my primary access at this time but I expect to move into using a screen reader in the near future. I understand that JAWS and Window-Eyes work in this environment as long as you reconfigure keyboard mapping but I won’t worry about that now I’ll save that for a later post . You said something about Zoom Text will work in both Fusion and Parallels. Can you tell me why you think Parallels is better for Zoom Text? Is it a stability, graphic handling, or preference? I have been reading about the differences between both Fusion and Parallels and I can’t find any differences except all forums/blogs I have read and friends that use Mac (screen reader only) lean toward VMware Fusion. The sales person at Apple told me that she recommends Fusion for Mac savvy users and recommends Parallels for those that are more Windows oriented. That didn’t tell me a whole lot.

Submitted by frank perry on Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In reply to by Ken Ewing

Helo. Fusion is grate with zoom text, the problem you will face is that I have heard totally blind users saying things like there is better performance with Jaws and window eyes and nvda with parallel. This all comes down to keystrokes used to control them. Like me, at the moment, you're probably still using a mouse, but as the eyes get worse, the learning of keystrokes with a new screen reader will become necessary. If you are working in the technology sector, you may find it necessary to understand both operating systems, their use of the mouse, their use of keystrokes to control their screen readers other than zoom text or voice over. I can see it it important given your line of work, you have as much tech stuff available to you. You may find there is a need for more than one windows screen reader, some clients will want Jaws, others will want window eyes, a few even may want nvda at first. Running you Mac parallel will be less confusing for your clients as it will be for yourself in my view. What I would say is this. If you know of somebody using fusion, give it a go, see how you go, then see if you can find somebody using parallel. I myself use parallel, I find it keeps the Mac uncluttered, I can swap to windows if necessary, but I rarely do it. I've had my mac 7 weeks, sure it is taking some getting use too, but I'm loving the challenge. My sight has stabilised at the moment, so I guess for me that is an advantage. I don't work in the tech industry, my tech knowledge isn't absolutely accurate, but I have a fair idea of how computers perform, and I can say with confidence, again, my own personal experience, parallel is giving my mac better performance. Whatever you do, give nvda a go at least, it will give you some sort of a taste of keystrokes to expect for if and when you really need a screen reader. In relation to your iPhone coments, whilst the gestures for zooming are a little different, the concept and the end results will be the same on any apple mac. I also have an iPhone, I would never use a windows phone ever again, and again, that's a personal preference. Apple is miles ahead in accessibility, you buy the product, turn zoom or voice over on, and that's that. No sma agreements, no third party scripts, no waiting around for f s or human ware or gw micro to catch up with necessary scripts, do I need to say any more? By the way, iPhone discussions as well as apple tv discussions are also welcome here. Anything to do with apple is a topic on this group, so feel free to post.

Submitted by Ken Ewing on Monday, October 31, 2011

Well, I bought a MacBook Pro and it is surprisingly easy to use and operate. The tutorial during the setup process helped me understand how to interact with objects and elements using VoiceOver. I also found the Help screens and keystroke to get to the Commands list as well as accessing the Get Started Guide very helpful. I purchased Parallels about a week after I got the MacBook Pro. Installing it was somewhat a problem since the installation screen would not allow VoiceOver to read it. I had to use Zoom for the first time. This created frustration since I didn’t know how to tame it, meaning the mouse pointer kept moving to the top left of the screen each time I grabbed the mouse. Also, I had to get used to the “fuzzy” looking fonts at high magnification. I made a few modifications to mouse tracking but still can’t seem to get it under control. Any thoughts? After I installed Parallels I installed Zoom Text which was a lesson itself. Zoom Text did in fact install but now whenever it is launched it displays on a very small portion of the screen and that portion is not magnified as a matter of fact it is a tiny picture of the Windows desktop. What I have discovered is I could use Zoom while in the Virtual Machine! This is something nobody has talked about. Now if I can only get the mouse tracking under control, I will be able to work in Windows without Zoom Text. Another question I have is has anyone noticed that Safari is not the ideal Web Browser? Most sites I visit won’t display correctly and often tell me that I need to use either Internet Explorer or Fire Fox. Is Fire Fox accessible with VoiceOver? I have to ask this because I downloaded Microsoft Office for Mac and found it to be inaccessible. I was able to navigate the Ribbon but could not access the document area of MS Word and Excel. I didn’t know how to uninstall it so I looked it up on Google and according to a step-by-step guide written by Microsoft it is a twelve step process! So I am going to be very careful about what programs I install from now on. Thanks, Ken

Hello. Firstly, fire fox will not work with voice over as it's a third party browser and apple doesn't write scripts for it. You will be pleased to know I'm working on an apple script for the latest version but without much luck so far. I can use fire fox on the mac simply using zoom on the mac but totally blind people should stick to safari. In relation to safari, there are a few bugs which should have been fixed by now especially given we have lion 10.7.2 but they were not fixed. That's a bit disappointing ok so Steve Jobs died and apple was busy getting the iPhone 4s up and going, but the last release of lion fixed absolutely nothing. Voice over users may have noticed that voice over keeps changing pitch when reading out screens of info and this bug has been reported to apple by hundreds of blind people I know of and apple hasn't yet addressed it. It's true that zoom text is a little slower with parallels than it would be with fusion, but I find zoom easy to use so don't use zoom text with windows. In relation to mouse tracking I have little advice to give here simply because the settings will depend on the user of the mac, how much sight they have, how big they need the screen magnification etc. This will require the user to fiddle around. My only complaint about mouse tracking is I can't have one set of tracking for one thing and another for another or at least I haven't found a way of doing that yet. I did try camino web browser, but this doesn't work with lion any more anyway. You can open sites in dash board if that is of any help.

What is the big deal about iPhone 4s. Before telling you about iPhone 4s, a few important things worth noting. 1. You do not need an iPhone 4s to run version 5 of the iPhone operating system. 2. To run version 5 of the iPhone operating system, you will require an iPhone 3gs or iPhone 4 preferably 16 gig models or above. Introducing siri. Siri is a new voice recognition chip installed in iPhone 4s. iPhone 3gs and 4 users will be aware vr as its called in some circles was introduced in your phone to play music and dial contacts. Siri does much more than that. Siri can be used to send any of your contacts a text message, call them at home or the office or mobile, send them an email, send them a photo or picture message. Siri doesn't work with any third party applications as yet but stand by folks because it's coming with iPhone operating system version 6. You can visit your favourite websites using siri, set up alarms and reminders, ask for the time, look up the weather forecast, ask it what's on your tv stations play any song, podcast, audio book, tv show or movie you have on your iPhone 4s. Any vision impaired person is simply going to love siri. So how dies it work? Apple thought about this, just simply hold the phone like you would normally do when talking to somebody on the phone. You phone beeps so I can say call Peter. If I have more than one Peter, siri through voice over asks me which Peter is it Peter Smith or Peter Jones. I can simply say the surname in this example Smith, siri tells me calling Peter Smith. A few little things siri won't do. Siri won't change the screen brightness on my iPhone or at least I have not yet found the command for it. Siri is excellent at multi tasking but one tip, turn off any music, movie, audio book, tv show podcast etc as it doesn't like a lot of background noise. Be careful using siri in traffic, in fact, it's not advisable for blind people, best to stop somewhere. Siri will use the maps application, but as I say, I can't use siri with mobile navigator or other third party apps. Siri didn't like me asking which a f l Australian football league team won the 2011 premiership, it took me to a flights website instead. A couple of funny things to ask airy. Do you want to marry me. Siri, I'm satisfied with the way I am at the moment. I'm feeling depressed. Siri, I've found 3 mental agencies nearby. Book me a table at lazy moo's. Siri, I found lazy mo's do you want the phone number and website? It appears you can't book restaurants with siri.

Apparently Siri doesn't read email yet either. But I think things will keep improving, and maybe one day Siri will be available on the Mac. Wouldn't that be cool? Don't forget to ask Siri, "why did the chicken cross the road?" .

Submitted by Austin Seraphin on Friday, February 10, 2012

In reply to by Nancy

You should check out the Vocal app. You have to download the iPhone component from the app store, and the Mac component from their site, then you can control your Mac with Siri. Pretty cool!

Submitted by Nancy on Saturday, February 11, 2012

In reply to by Austin Seraphin

That does seem really cool. We are going to be trying out Dragon Dictate to control the Mac and dictate text. Siri has infinitely more potential than using Speech or a program like Dictate, so lets think good thoughts about the Siri developers (there are rumors that there's a common basis of some sort between Nuance - Dragon and Siri).