VoiceOver

Assistive technology: choice never greater

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Despite an often slow and mixed development history, the choice and availability of assistive technology to help people with disabilities access PCs and other computing devices has never been greater.

That’s the message delivered today to attendees of the VisAbility Technology Outlook conference in Perth, Western Australia by Media Access Australia’s resident accessibility expert, Dr Scott Hollier.

Dr Hollier said that assistive technology had had a long history with hardware-based text-to-speech technology being showcased in 1981, and SAM (Software Automatic Mouth) being released in 1982 for early personal computers from Atari, Apple and the Commodore 64.


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OS X Mavericks released with improved accessibility

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Apple has updated its operating system for laptop and desktop computers to OS X Mavericks. The update includes a number of improvements which make Macs easier to use for people with a disability.

Accessibility improvements

Closed captioning support

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Blind Arabic speakers left out in iOS 7

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Blind Arabic speakers have identified that the quality of the screen reader has gone backwards in the latest update to the Apple iPad and iPhone software.

In the update to iOS 7, Apple removed the ‘Majed’ voice for the Arab language setting for VoiceOver and replaced it with the inferior ‘Tariq’ voice.

VoiceOver is the built in screen reader for all Apple devices which allows blind users to navigate their smartphone or tablet. VoiceOver can be controlled through a series of gestures useful for blind users who cannot see buttons or other visual elements on the screen.

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Accessibility improvements announced at Apple WWDC

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A number of new features announced at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) held in San Francisco last week reveals some potential improvements to the accessibility of Apple devices. Presenting to developers, Apple unveiled its new operating system (OS), called OS X Mavericks, and the latest version of its mobile OS, called iOS 7.

Mavericks will come installed on Apple’s desktop computers and laptops including the iMac, Macbook Pro and Macbook Air, while iOS 7 will come installed on Apple devices such as the iPhone and iPad.

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