2002 Conference Proceedings

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MAKING IT TALK: CREATING PROFESSIONAL ACCESS SOLUTIONS FOR VISUALLY IMPAIRED COMPUTER USERS

Jane Churchward, Dolphin Computer Access.
Contact: jane.churchward@dolphinuk.co.uk 
Websites: [http://www.dolphinuk.co.uk] and [http://www.dolphinusa.com

This session is designed for access technology consultants, rehabilitation professionals, human resource managers, and anyone involved in finding solutions for computer users who are blind or have low vision in an employment situation. Delegates will gain more if they have some understanding of screen readers. The session will include a practical demonstration of how Dolphin's Supernova Professional can be configured to create access to complex applications. There will also be time for questions at the end of the session.

You are faced with an employee who has sight problems and a business application which does not work with any of the screen readers you have tried. No question of changing the business application - it's rolled out to thousands of users across the country. You need to choose a configurable screen reader which will provide a working solution for both the user and the employer for the long term. Until recently, options have been limited. This session introduces a new choice and a new method of creating access.

Dolphin's Supernova Reader Magnifier is a powerful screen reader which combines speech and Braille screen reading with full magnfication features. Supernova is network ready, meaning it can be installed on a LAN or WAN server and used across the network. Individual user settings are stored on the server giving the user freedom of movement.

The Professional Edition of Supernova v5 allows further configuration of the standard package. With Supernova Professional you can train Supernova to recognize new and complex applications.

* Easy to learn: Where other methods require programming knowledge, Supernova can be trained using 'point and click' methods, or through accessible menus and dialogs.
* Flexible: Once trained, the application will remain accessible even when you change color depth, screen resolution, or 'skin' (graphical interface).
* Long term: When updates occur, Supernova intelligently applies existing rules for the application. If changes are major, rules can be added or edited quickly and easily without requiring a complete re-write.
* Fast: training can achieve in a matter of minutes what may take hundreds of lines of scripted code to achieve by another method.

A screen reader manufacturer cannot automatically 'configure' their product to work with every single commercial, shareware or free application in existence. For complex applications, there should be a straightforward method of creating the necessary configuration required to make the screen reader work successfully. Such a method should be accessible to all and not just to professional programmers.

Previous generations of screen readers have tended to require complex scripting languages and text based configuration files (sometimes known as INI files) to achieve compatibility with many applications. Such scripting was a costly, time consuming, difficult and not very tolerant of minor changes in applications.

In this presentation we will be demonstrating Dolphin's latest technology which makes the task of configuring a screen reader into a straightforward, quick and intuitive operation which can be performed without any previous programming experience or the use of scripts or DOS style configuration files.

Most of the Supernova Professional configuration system concentrates on 'training' the screen reader to correctly recognise and understand what is on the screen. Once everything on the screen can be correctly identified, the built in intelligence of Supernova can take over.

* Training mode
* Detection methods
* Map files
* Rules
* Training example

Supernova Professional also offers the opportunity to create user configured hotkeys on both keyboard and Braille display which perform a series of operations collectively called an 'Action'. An action hotkey can for example click on series of places on the screen and read aloud a result.

* Application specific settings
* Action editor
* Custom application keys
* Custom global keys
* Action example

If a keyboard or mouse user finds themselves repeatedly performing the same series of tasks, these can be gathered onto a single hotkey thus improving usage for blind and sighted users alike.

* Employment case studies

Summary of screen access features.
* Magnification
* Speech
* Braille output


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