An Interesting Post to Pass Along to Those Who Still Believe the Myths About VoiceOver

I’m sure we all know someone. The person who still is quick to go on and on about the various myths about why Windows is easier to use than the Mac and how Windows is more efficient, yada, yada, yada. It’s as ridiculous as the Windows Fan Boys who still spew the 1990’s thinking about the Mac in regards to it being a “toy” and that “no one uses them” etc.

Well, this was posted on the mac4thblind list and I thought it was worth posting here. Please circulate this. From the good folks from Applevis, this
is worth the read

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Updates, 3/17/14

I have been working on the site for the last few weeks and there are some little tweaks throughout it. This includes updating some of the information to reflect OS X Mavericks in the Tips and Tricks for the Mac and OS X page of the site.

Also, I have added episode 21 of the Audio Demonstration Series, which is a podcast on the Interaction feature of VoiceOver on the Mac. You can find it in the
Demonstrations Page
of the site.

There are a few other updates in some other places as well, so enjoy. Have a happy Saint Paddy’s day folks!

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OK, so what about this Whole Interaction Concept on the Mac?

The Concept of Interaction on the Mac

Having worked with people and having also trained folks on the Mac for a good four years consistently now, as well as being a member of several blind Mac user email lists, I can certainly say that the interaction concept used in VoiceOver on the Mac tends to be one of the liveliest topics. Without a doubt, it can often be confusing to a new Mac user, especially if that user is making the transition from Windows. They might understand the proper keystrokes to start and stop interacting (control-option-shift-down arrow and control-option-shift-up arrow respectively), but the concept itself is frequently like a foreign language to some, and, of course, this leads to confusion and frustration.

I would say that the biggest question I am asked, beyond having to explain just what interaction is, would be the basic question as to when one is supposed to interact and when it is not necessary. Again, memorizing the keystrokes is usually not an issue, but knowing when to use those keystrokes presents the problem more times than not for the new user. I couldn’t even begin to try to guess as to how many times I have had this very conversation with my clients or other Mac users. It’s certainly a concept that I had my share of difficulties with wrapping my head around in the beginning.

Thus, I am going to attempt to shed some light on the whole interaction concept and try to offer some tips as to know when one has to interact and when one does not. Also, I will present some examples of the situations in which one has to interact and, hopefully, give you seven specific types of items one encounters on the Mac that require interaction. It really is not all that mysterious once one starts to understand that there are some rules to help guide you and enable you to navigate the rich waters of VoiceOver on the Mac. Continue reading

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iOS 7.1 Is Released

For those not aware, iOS 7.1 is now released. I just downloaded it on my iPhone 5S. The bug that effected using the rotor to raise the volume of some iDevices, such as the iPhone 5S, above 35 percent is fixed, as well as, “screen lock” being repeated.

For a comprehensive list of fixes and remaining bugs, I’d highly recommend going to the good folks at
to read about them all. In particular, for low vision users, there have been several changes and additions.

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Another Review from Scott

I am far behind, as this was posted by Scott Granados on the mac4theblind email list several weeks ago. Neverthe less, I give you another review from Scott, this one on the Jawbone Era:

So, as some of you may know on 01/27 Jawbone refreshed the Era which is their flagship bluetooth headset. As a refresher the old Era was a very small headset (about 15 grams) and had decent noise cancelation. There was also firmware upgradable code and motion censors etc.

Well it’s time for a new one.

First, the Era by Jawbone is a fully functional tiny headset. A2DP is supported so you can have iPhone audio through the headset as well as several handsfree profiles including the new wide band standard. Sound assassin 4 is now present along with the same old cheek censor.
The headset itself is now less than 10 grams in a very small form factor. The New jawbone is a small rectangular outside with an ear spiraled insert that fits in your ear canal. The headset sits on the outside of your ear with the small bump censor against your cheek or well jawbone. (hence the name) The only controls on the unit are a programmable button on the back you use for operation and a slide switch on the inside next to the ear for power.

Pairing was very easy. Simply power up the unit the first time and it drops in to pairing mode. Select with your phone and the pairing happens automatically including the code key.
The ear fit is a little complicated. You have spiraled inserts that should fit your ear. You sort of spin the headset in to your ear with the ear opening lining up with your canal and the other counter balance side part of the spiral providing counter pressure so it stays lodged in your ear. This is very comfortable because there’s no one point or a few points of friction holding the headset in, rather the whole base supports weight and keeps the headset solid, very well done once you get the fit
Over all I say by the headset. The voice quality, size, ease of operation and quality finally are worth the users time. This is a perfect operating Jawbone, something I haven’t seen before so get


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A quick note

I must apologize for the lack of posts. There have been some technical problems with the site caused by some corrupted data files. Thus, this has been something my webmaster has been addressing over the last few weeks. I do have things I will be posting and adding to the to the site. So, please stay tuned. This will include new podcasts to the Audio Demonstration series.

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Yet Another Review from Scott

Here is another product review offered by Scott Granados. This one is on the HP 551DM color laser printer. Enjoy.

So here’s a review of an HP 551DM color laser network attached printer.


Features include double sided printing, 1 GB of printer memory, gigabit Network connection, multiple paper trays, complex remote monitoring like SNMP, EPrint, Air Print and web based server for monitoring use of supplies and printer performance.

The Pluses

this is a great printer. It was easy to set up although it helped to have sited assistance. Finding all the taped portions for shipping and removing all the locks would be tricky if you haven’t done it before. Very possible to learn though if you had to deal with packing and unpacking these units. There is lots of functionality including being able to print on both sides of the page automatically, most print methods are supported including post script, lots of printer memory for storage of jobs and 600 – 1200 DPI print output. Page count is about 33 pages per minute both in color or black and white mode.

Down Sides

The main downsides are the cost, I spent approximately $700 for the printer and another 800 for a replacement set of inks. The printer does ship with all the ink you need however which can knock 200 dollars each times 4 or about 800 dollars off the cost. You can also use recycled ink from ink technologies to cut that cost by 3 quarters. Still it’s expensive although it performs at the high end of the spectrum, I may have bought to much printer for what I need.
The other issue is the size. The printer weighs about 75 pounds unloaded so make sure you have a sturdy shelf.


Over all I’m very happy. I’d give this printer 4.5 stars. If you need a heavy work horse printer especially for a small office, this is the unit for you.

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Another review courtesy of Scott Granados

Here is another review written by Scott Granados that he posted on the mac4theblind mailing list and has given kind permission to post on this site. This review covers the latest version of the Apple Extreme Base Station.

Here we go, a review of the new airport extreme 802.11AC base station.

The current version of the Airport Extreme from Apple is a base station that provides WiFi connectivity to your apple or non apple devices and can provide routing for an entire network or act as an access point for an existing network. Airport Extremes can also be used together as repeaters.

What’s in the box?

The Airport Extreme 802.11AC comes in a tall rectangular box with an airport extreme base unit, small booklet and power cord. (same power cord as the Apple TV)

The Airport Extreme description.

The Airport Extreme is a rectangular box with rounded edges. The airport itself stands about 8 to 10 inches high and is about 6 inches square or the same circumference as an Apple TV. The box has an Apple on the top and bottom and the ports are all located on one side starting from the bottom of the unit. The plugs in order from bottom up are AC power, WAN, USB, and 3 LAN ports.

Configuring and connecting.

Configuring and connecting the Apple Airport Extreme is very easy. Simply attach a cable from the WAN port to your local network you wish to extend or to your modem if acting as a router. Once connected apply power and wait approximately 20 seconds. You’ll see an open network called Apple Network appear in your WiFi list. Join this network and the airport utility automatically starts. Enter in your network name or SSID, password or key, follow the directions and save your settings. Check the firmware, update if an update exists, reboot and reconnect using your new network name. That’s all. Very simple and can be done in only a few minutes.

Once connected you will join your WiFi devices to the new network and enjoy your Airport extreme. You will notice improved connectivity across all network devices whether they support AC networking or not. If you have an Apple Macbook / Pro or Macbook Air that supports AC you will get easily 1 half gigabit throughput. Most devices seem to connect in the 400 megabit range using type N. This will improve as Apple deploys AC networking across their product line.
The Airport Extreme supports both 2.4 and 5 GHZ as well as channel bonding. The best band will automatically be selected and if possible both bands will be used in parallel for maximum throughput. (depends on wireless client’s capabilities)


Over all I like the unit a great deal. As always, the setup is simple and clever, performance is very good and it worked right out of the box. Negatives are it’s not that configurable especially for advanced use cases, QOS isn’t exposed or configurable, but it does boot securely.
For folks who have a USB hard disk available the Airport Extreme can share that drive as a network resource using it’s included USB port. This port can also be used to share a printer.

Over all, I’d give this unit 4 out of 5 stars. It’s a definite must have if you have a majority of your devices with Apple.

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Happy New Year to all!

I just wanted to take the opportunity to wish everyone a happy and healthy 2014. Thank you for visiting this site and your continued support.

Unfortunately, from the perspective of adding as much content as I’d like, I have not had the time to do so. My training schedule with clients and other personal commitments has limited my free time. As most of you know, this site is a labor of love and I have really been doing the work here when I have free minutes. Of late, those free minutes have been far and few between.

I have put out the request a number of times over the years, and it still is extended. If anyone would like to contribute anything here, such as articles, “how to” posts or “tips and tricks”, please do let me know. I have had a few people tell me they wanted to help out here, but, sadly, other than a couple of kind folks, there has been no follow up. Nevertheless, I will continue to do the best I can to keep this site up-to-date.

John Panarese

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More Large Print Keyboard Info

On the subject of large print keyboards, Maurie Hill of AISquared was kind enough to point out that RJ Cooper sells a variety of adaptive products for the iDevices. This includes a large print keyboard. You can go
for the information.

In addition, I am going to post the latest newsletter from RJ Cooper for those of you who might be interested in checking those guys out. Much of it goes beyond blindness and visual impairments, but they are still a very nice resource to keep in mind.

Hi to my Assistive Technology and AAC ‘fans’!

Can you believe 2013 is almost gone! Unbelievable. And I get 1 year older 🙁 But I’m still going! During the past several years, with the takeover of the iPad in special needs, several people and companies have elected to retire. They helped to create the thriving fields we have now. There’s too many to list here. But there’s one that I believe warrants a mention. As I, that is, *we* all grow older, we start thinking about our legacy, if and what we’ll be remembered for. I truly hope I’ve made an impact on our world. Here’s one person that has been a pioneer in the field, helped thousands, and did something *really* special with his early work.

Walt Waltosz, who created some of the first truly functional AAC systems, one of which was/is used by Stephen Hawking, world reknowned physicist. Here’s an article from that time period (although I can’t tell from the handwriting at the top of it what the year is):

Of course there are more people, but in thinking about *my* legacy, I wanted to pay homage to *his*. OK, on to *my* stuff 😉

**CRITICAL: You MUST get your order IN to us by Dec. 6 to ensure delivery by Christmas. If you place your order during the week of Dec. 9, you *will* need to pay for UPS 2 day shipping to guarantee delivery by Christmas. NO EXCEPTIONS, so please don’t wait and then ask for an exception, and then get angry with *me* 😉 **

So here’s my latest stuff; I’ll try to be brief. Look over each numbered item and if it’s of interest, click on the associated link for more info.

1) iOS 7 Switch Control – I don’t have to say much more to get you excited because so many people *are* excited over this. But not me. Although I *do* applaud Apple for it, it’s quite flawed, IMHO (but it can be fixed….but *will* it? 😉 Click below for my reasons:

2) My ScanOver alternative to #1 is moving nicely. I do believe, while it’s not a perfect solution, it’s still better than iOS 7 Switch Control, at this point.

3) I’ll have my Ultimate II cases for the new iPad Air by the beginning of new year.

4) I’ve added optional Extensions to my popular Magic Arm for iPads.

5) Some new great pictures showing one of my favorite switch sites, for the most challenged learners/users at…

6) Here’s a twist on a cool iPad implementation if you’re working with a physical keyboard, possibly with my Spell-A-Word app:

7) And speaking of keyboards, I’m now packaging my popular, and almost tip-proof Tablet Stand with my BIG-Blue-Tooth keyboards:

see here.

You might find another one like it from a non-special-needs-devoted company, but mine has my VERY helpful colored-rows and some special iPad functions, and even built-in StickyKeys!

I’ll stop there, but there’s more I’m working on. More next time.

Sincerely (remember, I’m a *person*, not a “vendor”),

RJ 🙂

RJ Cooper & Associates, Inc. | 22600-A Lambert St. Suite 708 | Lake Forest | CA | 9260 | US

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