Using iTunes on Windows with screen readers
Apple does a fairly good job making their devices accessable with their VoiceOver system, but it seems they dropped the ball when it came to making iTunes for Windows accessable with screen reading software.
I'm running Windows 7 with JAWS 15. It seems to me that there are problems with JAWS being able to access the iTunes program so it can read its content, making it frustrating to use iTunes. I can't see the iTunes program, but I assume it is skinned, and it's the skinning that causes problems for JAWS.
Does anyone know of a guide or set of instructions that can help me make iTunes more accessable?
What I'd really like is an blind accessable, audio only media player that simply looks like a mass storage device when plugged into a USB port on my computer. That way I can use any media library or file manager I like to manage the content on the media player. I know of Humanware's Victor Media Stream player, but it seems designed primarily as a talking book player. I have my doubts it could gracefully handle a large (1,500+ tracks) music library.
What version of ITunes? The accessibility will depend largely on the version of ITunes and what the screen resolution is set to. I never had problems with ITunes in Windows when I used to use it.
Jonathan Mosen has done podcasts for Freedom Scientific using JAWS, Windows, and iTunes. I'm not sure of the podcast number or numbers, but they can be downloaded from the "fs cast" section of their main page, which is
iTunes is very accessible with other screen readers as well. Apple did not drop the ball. It's just a bit cumbersome to use. But the program really does work, and is the best way to transfer data to and from an iPhone as well as to keep your phone updated and backed up.
Wow, this is a perfect example of the problem!
After I went to Help > About, the JAWS PC cursor couldn't find anything to read in the about dialog. Since the PC cursor can only go where there is a defined tab stop, I tried the JAWS cursor which can go to any defined controls including read only ones like static text, all it would tell me is the ID number of two graphic objects. Thinking that the graphic objects had images of text in them, I then tried the convenient OCR feature of JAWS, all I could get was the same ID numbers for the two graphic objects, as if there was no recognizable text in them for the OCR function to read.
So I can't get the version number from the software, but I do know that it is the latest version.
The rest of the program can be just as much of a problem to access.
This is all very frustrating, I've only used the program once when I first got the iPod Touch. With the help of my brother who is sighted, we were able to get my music library and some play lists load on the iPod. Since then I've bought more tracks from iTunes and want to use the iTunes software to back up my purchases to my PC. So far, on my own, I've been unable to do anything with the iTunes for Windows software.
Honestly, what is the point of doing all the extra work to make their devices accessable, and then not do anything to make the required supporting software equally accessable? It doesn't make any sense to me at all.
One of the previous posters is correct: iTunes is perfectly accessible -- at least for its main features. The tab and F6 keys ar your friend. The FSCasts are also quite helpful although the organization of iTunes has changed somewhat from the version used at the time those podcasts were made. But you have to get used to a different interface and ditch the notion of using most (though not all) Windows controls. The reason Convenient OCR doesn't work is that text isn't even drawn until you do something, e.g., hit the tab key. I'd be glad to help you over the telephone with this; the task seems daunting at first but a nice tech from 1-800-MyApple actually had a computer with JAWS on it and fired up iTunes and talked me through it, telling me what I was seeing and what I should expect. I now use iTunes on my PC to play many Internet radio stations including a playlist I created of "All News" stations.
anyway, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and I'd be glad to exchange email with you or talk with you on the telephone.
In that case I'll keep working at it, maybe I'm just doing something wrong. Or maybe, iTunes initial set up isn't good for screen readers and needs some tweaking to get it working. I know that it took me and my sighted brother an hour to finally get it start syncing my music library to the iPod.
At this point I wish I could still use my Microsoft Zune HD media player. Despite its lack of accessability capabilities, I still think it was a far superior product than Apple's iPods.
I'm not very good at using Itunes. but have you tried going to view then to show side bar? Or pressing alt V for view then arrowing down to show side bar? After that when you tab around you'll here sources treeview. Music library playlist. If you arrow down through this treeview you'll see things like music library playlist, film library playlist and so on, when you go to the item you want, lets say music, if you tap you'll see some radio buttons, songs, elbams and so on. Pressing space on one of these radio buttons will make the list you'll come across show different things. If you pres enter on songs, it will show all your songs, albams, will show you all your albams, and so on. So the basic idea is, find a library you want, be it, music, films, books, or apps and then tab around. The ituens store is a little bit complicated and I won't go into it in this post if you play around you'll get there in the end. All I'll say is F6 will allow you to search in the store when you arrow down to it in the treeiew, then pressing F6 again will get you back to the stores page. I hope this helps.
Check Freedom's website and look for the 3rd party scripts. There is a set of scripts that a guy developed for ITunes. It is called BlindTunes or something like that. There is also an FSCast podcast where the developer describes these scripts.