A visually impaired geek finds happiness with a small but perfectly formed Mac Mini
Although I purchased my beloved Mac Mini on the same day I got my iPhone back in June, I wanted to wait a while to have the experience of using it day in and day out, as I anticipated there was going to be an adjustment period since I did port over from a PC running the dreaded Vista after all. It is not like me to wholeheartedly diss something outright, but really, it is just not right when you have regular freezes and crashes because of conflicts between your operating system and software when they are made by the same company!
Sure. Things over in Mac-land are different and I did have a few moments where I considered returning to the familiar, but was reminded of just how close I got to throwing my PC out of the third floor window, so I persevered. And within a few days, I was settled, but even then thought it was a little too good to be true, so remained patient and waited for something bad to happen. But it never did. It just keeps on getting better.
For me, Macs make sense. They are intuitive and do things in a logical way. They are more stable and make me feel safe and in harmony. Yes. I know it is just a machine, but hey, it is my lifeline so please indulge me. But the most important thing for us VI folk or anyone else with a disability that impacts on computer use for that matter, is the fact the Accessibility features are provided free of charge and are simply part of the operating system. When I used JAWS in Vista, it played havoc with my monitor and it always felt intrusive. Not so on the Mac.
The Zoom feature doesn’t make me feel like throwing up, as do all the others that I have tried, and the VoiceOver interacts with both keystrokes and the mouse. Although the features are 'On' all the time, they are not active unless you want them to be. The male voice, called Alex, is soft and as near to human as I have ever heard, with appropriate intonation and breathing. Yes breathing. Very cool indeed. However, I’m no tecchie, but the lovely people over at ATMac are and they have dedicated an entire website to such things.
Apple have, once again, done what they are good at. Not only have they applied their usual abundance of creativity and innovation to move technology forward, they have also had the sensitivity to call their Accessibility features 'Universal Access', which denotes inclusion as opposed to 'Accessibility Features for People with Disabilities' which, well, does not. And with the latest version of their operating system, Snow Leopard, out in September, promising even more improvements to Universal Access, this geek is staying put.
Find out more at www.apple.com/accessibility