2002 Conference Proceedings

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HOW NEW OPERATING SYSTEMS FROM MICROSOFT EFFECT ACCESSABILITY

Presenter:
Clarence Whaley
GW Micro
725 Airport North Office Park
Fort Wayne,IN 46825
Email: Clarence@gwmicro.com 
Dayphone: 615-383-6248
Fax 615-269-5288

It seems that every time we turn around new operating systems are being announced from Microsoft. In the past screen reader manufacturers have been hard pressed to keep up with these changes. Often persons who are blind have had to wait for months after the release of a new operating system to get full access and have become frustrated at having to wait. In this discussion we will examine what is being done by Microsoft and GW Micro in particular to eliminate this wait and to make the time to market minimal or nonexistent. New cooperation between Microsoft and screen reader manufacturers is eliminating this delay and the ultimate goal is to insure that when Microsoft releases a product GW Micro will have access ready to go and release the appropriate update at the same time.

We will also examine the accessability features built in to Windows XP for the home and professional, and how when used with the latest in screen access technology these features make the computing environment more pleasant than ever before. For example, we will examine how the built-in magnification features found in Windows XP when combined with Window-Eyes can open up new worlds for people with low vision. Through the use of the built-in magnification a person with low vision is able to see the screen and to use Window-Eyes when their eyes become tired and just to make access a more pleasant environment. We will also look at the various sounds built into the operating system and how these audible queues add to the usability of the software.

We will examine using the various security features built into Windows XP and how these work with Window-Eyes to open up heretofore unusable aspects of administration for people who are blind. Various user profiles will be explored and will show how coworkers and family members can benefit from different user profiles to make using the computer more efficient and enjoyable. With the ability to use the administrative tools more jobs are made available and will make it possible for persons who are blind to be employeed as system administrators and more.

During this session we will take a look at Braille with the operating systems and how through the use of Braille even more information becomes available. This will be especially important to those working in call center applications or those who need to examine exact formatting of documents. Looking at the new Office XP we will examine how smart tags are used, formatting enhancements and how to construct documents that are appealing to both the sighted and blind user.

In this session we will also explore Internet Explorer 6.0, the new enhancements included with it, the new security and cookie handling and reliability. We will also show the ease of filling out complicated electronic forms and actually make an online purchase.

We will also examine the new Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0, how it interacts with both Windows XP and Window-Eyes. We will examine reading .PDF documents and will examine sites where it is necessary to fill out an electronic .PDF form. We will show how the combination of Microsoft, Adobe and GW Micro gives the user the ability to handle both complex and simple computing chores in an efficient and enjoyable manner.

There will also be a question and answer session to answer questions about the present and future of accessability and how it relates to the major players in the industry. Our goal for the future is to be on time and possibly even ahead of schedule when new products hit the streets. We who are blind deserve to have access to state of the art products at the same time as the rest of society, and we need this to remain productive and more importantly to stay gainfully employed.

Clarence Whaley
10/01/2001


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