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Using MAC Applications with Voiceover (Tiger Edition)

Writen by,
John W Hess

What is Voiceover?

For those with vision disabilities, Tiger includes Voiceover, a built-in screen reader that provides keyboard control of the computer, enhanced screen magnification options, and spoken English descriptions of whatís on the screen. Voiceover enables many users with special needs to work collaboratively with other Mac users and use a Macintosh without assistance.
Voiceover is intended to provide those who are blind, have low vision, or learning difficulties the ability to use a Macintosh. Itís perfect for those who have never used a computer or screen reader before, for those who are new to Macintosh and for those using screen readers on Mac OS 9 and want to take advantage of all Mac OS X has to offer. With Voiceover, youíll be able to create and edit word processing documents, send email and browse the world wide web, even play chess!
Voiceover reads aloud the contents of documents speaks a description of your workspace and the activities taking place on your computer. Tiger includes over 20 unique synthesized voices and you can adjust the rate, pitch and volume of each voice individually. Several voices such as Vicki, Bruce and Fred are also optimized to speak extremely fast so you listen to documents at your own speed. You can also assign different voices to speak at different times. So for example, one will speak the menus while another speaks the content of a document. Thereís also a pronunciation dictionary so Voiceover will speak names and phrases the way you prefer. When typing, you can set Voiceover to speak every character or only complete words.

Setting up Voiceover
Note: Voiceover keys = Control-Option and will be denoted by the short form VO Keys.

Global Settings
Global settings effect Voiceover's performance throughout the entire operating system and are not specific to a particular application.
The following settings will insure that Voiceover performs correctly.
Activate the Voiceover utility by pressing VO Keys f8.
This is a multipage dialog box that offers a wide variety of customization options.
The navigation tab is extremely important and will allow a user to configure how the Keyboard focus, Voiceover cursor and mouse pointer follow each other. Note: while navigating with Voiceover the VO Keys (control-option) must be held down. Alternatively they may be locked by pressing VO Keys-Semicolon.
While holding the VO Keys down press the right arrow until navigation is heard. Press the spacebar to select this tab. Press the right arrow to move to the first item which is a heading called General Navigation.
The following settings should be checked.
Voiceover cursor moves to newly loaded web-page, Group items in web pages, navigate images and only navigate images with a description.
Items can be checked or unchecked by using VO Keys along with the left and right arrows to find the item and pressing VO Keys-spacebar to check or uncheck the item. Voiceover will speak the state of the Item.
Cursor tracking is the next heading under the navigation tab. The following items should be checked.
Voiceover cursor tracks keyboard focus, Keyboard focus tracks Voiceover cursor, Mouse cursor tracks Voiceover cursor. Note that Voiceover cursor tracks mouse cursor is not checked. This is a safety precaution. Should a blind user accidentally bump the mouse or
the track pad on the notebook computer the Voiceover cursor's position would change making it difficult to stay focused on a particular item.
Under the section entitled Text Selection Tracking on the general tab all items should be checked.
There are many other settings that can be customized to suit the user however the settings outlined in this document are essential for optimizing Voiceover. Also note that although some of the settings mentioned dealt with web pages they have been included in the global list.

Application specific settings

Note: Voiceover keys = Control-Option and will be denoted by the short form VO Keys.

Unlike global settings application specific settings effect a particular application and do not effect the entire opperating system.
The settings that will be discussed are for Safari, Text Edit and Calculator.

Open the preferences dialog by pressing Command-comma
Once again this is a multipage dialog containing 8 pages.
On the general page under the section remove Download List Items There will be a popup menu. Popup menus can be nagociated by holding the VO Keys and pressing the spacebar one time to enter the menu. VO Keys down arrow and up arrow will move through the menu and VO Keys spacebar will select the highlighted item.
Select Uppon Successful Download.
On the same page of the dialog uncheck Open Safe files after downloading.
On the advanced page of the dialog under the section Universal Access check the box that says Press tab to highlight each item on a web page. This will allow the tab key to move through the links on the page and Option-Tab to move through controls such as edit fields, check boxes and push buttons.
Hiding the Bookmarks bar can make a Voiceover users experience browsing the internet much easier. The Bookmark bar contains a variety of websites a user can easily go to by the click of a mouse or the press of the Voiceover keys. However, since there are many bookmarks on the bar it takes a while to find the actual HTML content. Hiding this bar enables the Voiceover user to access the content quickly and easily. A Voiceover user can access bookmarks from the menubar.
The bookmarks bar can be found under the view menu and can be hidden in the following two ways.
1. Press Command-Shift-b. This command is a toggle that allows the bar to be hidden or shown. Alternatively pressing control-F2 will activate the menu bar, press right arrow to move to the view menu and then press the down arrow until the choice hide bookmarks bar is heard and press enter to select the item. The menu will close and the bar will be hidden.

Text Edit
Open the preferences dialog by pressing Command-comma
This is a multipage dialog containing two pages. The first page will be highlighted and is called New Document. ‹nder the options section Show Ruler should be unchecked. The reason for this is it allows VoiceOVer to track better wehn reading the text of a document. If the ruler is checked the Voiceover cursor will sometimes get stuck on the ruler and read it's information rather then the document.

For a speech user to use calculator effectively the following settings must be checked.

  1. VO Keys-m=menu bar
  2. Right arrow to speech.
  3. Down arrow to speak button pressed and if it doesn't say checked press enter.
  4. Repeat the above procedure and when arrowing down through the speech menu when speak result is heard press enter to check it if it isn't already checked.

At this point calculations can be typed in on the keyboard and will be spoken

Using Voiceover to navigate around Tiger as well as various applications.

Note: Voiceover keys = Control-Option and will be denoted by the short form VO Keys.

1. Orientation to the screen (where am I keys).
a. VO Keys-F1 = Application. Pressed twice = application chooser list.
b. VO Keys-F2 = Window. Press twice =window chooser list.
c. VO Keys-F3 = Voiceover cursor focus..
d. VO Keys F4 = Keyboard focus.
e. VO Keys F5 = Mouse focus.
f. VO Keys F6 = selection. This pertains to either text or items.

2. Voiceover menu and utility.
a. Voiceover menu = VO Keys F7. Here find items pertaining to Voiceover commands, help and settings.
b. Voiceover Utility = VO Keys F8. Change Voiceover settings such as rate, pitch, type of voice and other settings.

3. Navigating the desktop.
a. Arrow keys.
b. Tab through icons.
c. type first few letters of desired item.

4. Opening and closing items in a folder or on the desktop.
a: Command-o opens an item.
b. Pressing enter on an item opens an edit box where the item can be renamed.
c. Command-w closes a window or folder.
d. Command-q closes applications.

5. The menu bar.
a VO Keys-m activates menu
b. VO Keys-m twice activates the status menu which shoes clock battery status and other items.
c. VO Keys-shift-M activates context menus same as right clicking on a link or item or using the applications key in Windows.

6. Where are applications located?
a. Command-Shift-a opens the applications folder.
b. Use arrows, tab or type the first few letters of the application.
c. Command-o opens the application.

7. Navigating multipage dialogs
For this example the Voiceover utility (VO Keys-f8) will be used.
a. open Voiceover utility
b. The verbosity page is highlighted and "Verbosity selected tab 1 of 5" is heard.
c. While holding the Vo keys down press the right arrow to move through the different page tabs. Notice that the verbosity tab is the only one that says selected.
d. While holding the Vo keys press the right arrow until "voices" is heard.
e. While holding the VO Keys press spacebar to select the voices tab and hear "Press voices selected tab 3 of 5".
f. While holding the Vo Keys press the right arrow until "Voices" is heard.
g. While holding the Vo Keys press down-arrow and hear ""default voice".
h. While holding the Vo Keys press the right arrow one time and hear the name of the voice followed by the words "popup" signifying a menu of choices.
i. While holding the Vo Keys press the left arrow one time and hear "default voice". Then Press up arrow one time and hear "Voices.
j. Press Command-W to close the dialog.

Using Voiceover help.

Note: Voiceover keys = Control-Option and will be denoted by the short form VO Keys.
Note: Voiceover keys must be held when navigating the screen. They can be locked by pressing Vo Keys=Semicolon and unlocked with the same combination. When they are locked they don't need to be held however, if any typing needs to be done they must be unlocked.

1. Vo Keys-question mark=Voiceover Help
a. Keyboard focus (Vo Keys=f4) is on the edit box for searching help and the Vo cursor (Vo Keys-f3) is focused on the back button.
b. Press Vo Keys-down-arrow until "HTML content" is heard.
c. Press Vo keys-Shift-Downarrow to interact with the HTML content. "Interacting with HTML content" will be heard.
d. Press Vo keys=down-arrow to move through the help system and find the link that says, "find key commands quickly".
e. Press vo keys=Spacebar to click the link. "Press find key commands quickly link" will be heard.
f. Press VO Keys-down-arrow to move through the help and read it and find the link that says "See navigation commands".
g. Activate the link by pressing vo keys-spacebar and "Press see navigation commands link" will be heard.
h. Press vo keys=down arrow and read through the help and notice a wide variety of commands available for navigating text.
i. Press Command-W to close the help window.


Note: Voiceover keys = Control-Option and will be denoted by the short form VO Keys.

Surfing the Internet with Safari.

  1. Command-l=open URL. Type address and press enter.
  2. Option-tab moves through controls.
  3. Vo Keys-i=item chooser list.
  4. Vo Keys-u=links list.
  5. Vo Keys-Spacebar=activate link.
  6. Vo Keys-Spacebar activates a context menu similar to a right click or pressing the applications key in Windows.
  7. Vo Keys-Shift-down-arrow=interact with content, the way a page is read.
  8. Vo Keys-Shift-Up Arrow=stop interacting with content, brings focus back to the rest of the safari screen and out of the page content.

Note" When moving through the Safari screen when the words "HTML content" are heard, VO Keys-shift-down arrow must be pressed to interact with the content and bring focus to the body of the webpage.

Using Wikipedia and searching with Google.

Press Command-Shift-a to open the applications folder.
Type "SAF" and "Safari" will be spoken.
Press Command-O to open the Safari web browser.

1. Press command-l to open the address bar and type: www.wikipedia.com.
A sound will be heard once the page is loaded.
2. Press Option-tab to bring keyboard focus to the edit field. This can be verified by pressing VO Keys-f4.
3. Type "podcast" and press enter.
4. Press VO Keys-I to open the Item Chooser list. The words "building item menu" followed by "safari busy" followed by "Item chooser menu 1580 items".
5. Type the word "pod".
6. the words "203 items podcasting Wikipedia the free encyclopedia button" will be heard.
7. Press down-arrow one time and hear "Pod Casting".
8. Press VO Keys-Spacebar and hear "Pod Casting".
9. Press VO Keys-down-arrow and start reading about podcasting.

Searching with Google

  1. Press Command-L and type www.google.com and press enter.
  2. Press Option-tab to place keyboard focus on the edit/search field which can be verified by pressing VO Keys-F4. Hear "Blank edit text has keyboard focus".
  3. Type "beverages" and press enter.
  4. Press VO Keys-u to activate the link chooser list and hear "link chooser menu 68 items".
  5. Type ca and hear "13 items cached".

Note: The word Cached is an actual link. This refers to a version of a webpage that is stored on the Google servers. When searching using Google sponsored links are usually first and not cached on the site. The first cached item is usually the first search result which is why finding the link that says cached moves past the sponsored links and to the first result.
6. Press VO Keys-spacebar to leave the list and bring focus to that link. Nothing will be heard when pressing VO Keys-Spacebar.
7. Press VO Keys-up arrow until "Link beverages and more" is heard (other things will also be heard on the line with the beverages link).
Note: to click on any link simply press VO Keys-Spacebar on a line where the word link is heard.

Text Edit Used for basic word processing.

1. Open document = command-O. Note: default folder is Documents.
a. Down arrow through list or start typing the document name to select the document and press enter to open.

2. Reading a document.
a. Command-up arrow=top of document.
b. Command-Down arrow=Bottom of document
c. Command-Left Arrow=beginning of line.
d. Command-Right Arrow=end of line
e. Option Left-Right arrows move by word.
f. VO Keys-L,W,C,S, and P = current line, word, character, sentence and paragraph.
g. VO Keys-t reads attributes such as font size and style.
h. VO Keys-a reads the document from the cursor position to the end.
Note: Sometimes the Voiceover cursor doesn't follow the keyboard focus which will result in the Say All command reading other things. This can be corrected by routing the Voiceover cursor to the keyboard focus by pressing VO Keys-Shift-f4.
The Say All command will then read from the cursor position to the end of the document.
VO Keys-F4 will read the cursor position as the line number it is on as well as the total number of lines in the document.

3. Formatting a document.
a. Select text by adding the shift key to any of the cursor movement keys.
b. Bold=Command-b, Italics=command-i, Underline=command-u
c. Alignment: Left=Command-Left Brace, right=command-Right brace, Center=command-vertical line.
Note: Braces are brackets with the shift key held and the vertical line is the backslash with the shift key held.
Note: Text must be selected before the attributes can be applied.

4. spell checking a document
a. Command-semicolon Highlights misspelled word.
b. VO Keys-shift-m activate context menu displaying suggestions and other items.
c. Down arrow to desired suggestion and press enter.
d. Repeat above procedure until a sound is heard along with the word spell check signifying end of document.

5. Saving a document
a. Command-s=save. Pressing this command opens the save dialog where the name of the document is typed. Press enter to save the document.
b. Command-shift-S=save as.
Fun with "Bad Speller"
Press Command-Shift-a to open the applications folder.
Type "tex" and Text Edit will be spoken
Press Command-O to open the Text Edit application used for word processing.
Press Command-O to enter the open file dialog.
Type "bad" and the words "bad speller" will be spoken and the Bad Speller document will be highlighted.
Press Command-O to open the document.
Press VO Keys-F3 and hear"34 lines currently on line 1 word June character J is in the voiceover cursor".
Press VO Keys-a to start reading the document.
Note: VO Keys-a reads from the cursor position to the end of the document.
Once Voiceover has finished reading the document Press Command-UpArrow to move to the top of the document.
Press command-Semicolon to hightlight the first misspelled word. The word will be spoken along with the word "highlighted".
Press VO Keys-Shift-M to bring up a menu containing a list of suggestions as well as other items.
Down arrow to the appropriate suggestion and Press enter.
Note: To hear either the misspelled word or the highlighted suggestion press VO Keys-W to hear the word and once again to spell the word.
Repeat this procedure for each word until a ping is heard and the words "check spelling" are heard.
This means that the spell check is complete.
Save the document by pressing Command-Shift-S to open the SaveAs dialog and type the name "Good Speller. Press enter to save the document.

Using the Calculator

Press Command-Shift-a to open the applications folder.
Type "Calc" and "Calculator" will be spoken.
Press Command-O to open the calculator.

There are three types of calculators available.
For this demonstration I will deal with the basic calculator (Command-1).
When the calculator is opened the default is Basic and the cursor is positioned in the window where calculations can be typed. For a speech user to use calculator effectively the following settings must be checked.

  1. VO Keys-m=menu bar
  2. Right arrow to speech.
  3. Down arrow to speak button pressed and if it doesn't say checked press enter.
  4. Repeat the above procedure and when arrowing down through the speech menu when speak result is heard press enter to check it if it isn't already checked.

At this point calculations can be typed in on the keyboard and will be spoken. Pressing enter is the same as pressing equal and escape is the same as pressing clear.
There are many buttons on the screen which can be explored and pressed using the Voiceover cursor. This will be necessary when using the scientific calculator.
When using the scientific calculator after pressing one of the buttons for a particular type of calculation (example Pie) the value can then be typed and the Voiceover cursor does not need to be moved back to a particular part of the screen.

Mail used for sending and receiving mail over the Internet.

1. Writing and sending Mail.
a. Command-N=New Message. Focus is placed in the 'To' field where the address can be typed.
b. Order of fields is: to, CC, Bcc, Subject, Popup menu to customize what fields are displayed in the new message dialog, Popup allowing for the selection of different signatures and the area to write the message signified by Voiceover saying "HTML Content".
c. Type body of message.
d. Command-Shift-d=send. Focus returns to Inbox.

2. Spell checking a message.
a. Command-shift-semicolon=spell check.
b. VO Keys-f2 twice=windows chooser list.
c. S=spell-check window followed by pressing enter to bring focus to the spell checker.
d. VO Keys-down-arrow one time places focus in the edit box with the misspelled word.
e. VO Keys-W reads the word.
f. Down Arrow moves through suggestions.
g. Pressing the Enter key changes the misspelled word to the selected suggestion and highlights the next misspelled word.
h. For each new misspelled word down arrow to pick a suggestion and press enter to change the misspelled word to the selected suggestion.
If you don't want to change a word just press enter when you hear a misspelled word that you want to skip and the next word will be highlighted.
i. When spell check is complete press escape to exit the spell checker and return to the message.

3. Attaching a file
a. Write message using above procedure.
b. Command-Shift-A= attach file and places focus in the file browser.
c. Type the first letter until the name of the file is heard or use -the up & Down arrows to select a file and press enter to attach.
d. Command-Shift-d=send.

4. Reading Mail and opening attachments.
When the Mail program is opened focus is usually placed in the inbox also called the message table.
a. Down arrow to the message to be read.
b. VO Keys-J=Jump. This moves the focus from the message table to the content of the message. If the message is in plane text format it will begin reading. If the message is in HTML the position of the Voiceover cursor will be announced in the form of the character it is on. Pressing VO Keys-A will read the message.

To open an attachment press VO Keys-shift-end to go to the bottom of the message. The word attachment is heard along with some other symbols Press VO Keys-Shift-M to access the context menu and down arrow to open attachment.
a. Press enter and the attachment will be opened in the application that can access the particular file type.
b. Press VO Keys-J again to return focus back to the message table.

5. Replying to a message
a. Command-R=Reply. Type reply message. Original message will appear below.
b. Press Command-Shift-d to send.

End of Document.

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