Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Reply to Diego's email

Hello Diego

Yours are the first comments I've recieved on this blog. Oddly, Gmail forwarded your first comment but not the second one, which i found on Blogspot, but my reply applies to both I hope. I did try replying to your email yesterday before realising that the reply-path was to anonymous-sender. Perhaps there's a setting in blogspot which can fix that, but maybe its because you've deliberately chosen to remain anonymous. There isn't a 'reply to comment' link on Blogspot which seems like a bit of an ommission to me.

Anyway, here's my reply.

(I'll keep this post on the blog for the next month or so which I hope finds you. Let me know if you read it, but bear in mind I can't reply to you via conventional email)

Hiya Diego.

Thanks very much for you helpful comments regarding the Mac operating system and Voiceover. I'm actually surprised you or indeed anyone else has found my blog. I tried looking for it on Google myself recently and it didn't show up on the first couple of pages. So far, its been a sort of personal random diary of bits and bobs significant to me rather than anything I've encouraged people to actually look at, hence the lack of (ie, 0!) comments. But hey, its a *blog* so I guess it was inevitable someone would find me some day :)

You are the only person I've come across with a visual impairment of any kind who uses a Macintosh. I think in a version's time or so, theMac will catch on with the blind and VI communities as word gets around that you don't have to spend a fortune on top of your computer on speech/mag technology to actually use the computer out of the box.I'm sure if Apple consult with blind and partially sighted users they can work wonders in perfecting Voiceover. My wife, who is a web developer and totally blind, was initially rather sceptical when I mentioned to her that I was dallying with the idea of buying a Mac, but now I think she's curious having read a few reviews. Her comments, backed up by the reviews I've read, is that as a totally blind user, you can use the existing package of applications which come with the standard out-the-box system, but there was no guarantee old software, which never had Voiceover in mind, would work properly. I'd be happy with a decent magnifier, but since my wife and I share acomputer, the speech element is important, as there isn't analternative for the mac as yet. And whereas JAWS can be used to navigate quite complicated documents and web pages, this doesn'tappear to be the case with voiceover right now, but I think she wants to play as much as I do regardless of its known problems.

A mate of mine used to use (I might have the name wrong here) Appletalk, which as you say, was phased out. I can see why Apple felt financially, if not socially,obliged to create an accessible means of entry to their systems -obviously the US education market is worth a fortune to them so it makes good business sense. However, I regard Microsoft's reason for NOT including a similar system, even a half-baked but workable one (yep, the Windows magnification 'program' is cr*p indeed). They say that they don't want to put small companies who currently design and market such software out of business. If they have such a big hearted attitude to small businesses, then I'm afraid this hasn't been evident much in the past (ask Netscape!). And they could do what most business do when they are large and want to acquire the rights of the smaller business - buy it up lock stock and barrel and invest Microsoft millions into making a product which doesn't bluescreen out (as my old copy of Zoomtext Xtra used to three or four times a day at work). At least they'd be able to write the accessibility code alongside the main windows code, which would in theory make a tighter, better integrated OS.

I'll be trying the Apple Store again, only this time I'll book up one of their Genius staff. To be honest, I was surprised at how full the store was, as I left work deliberately early to miss the rush. The staff were not unfriendly, but they did seem overwhelmed with the number of visitors. I suppose the West End tourist zone is never empty. Now, if they opened a smaller store in the suburbs....

Thanks again for your comments.

Best regards
London UK

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