To Mac or Not To Mac?

To Mac or Not To Mac? That is the question for many of us visually impaired computer users.
 
Having been a long time member of the AppleVis community and a long time commentor, I was very excited when the AppleVis Editorial Team was looking to bring on some new members. Being someone who lost his last remaining vision in 2009, and never having used a screen reader, but in desperate need of one, I was at a cross road. 
 
Prior to losing my last remaining vision,  I had  used ZoomText on the PC. Along with losing my vision, my computer was getting in to that ancient phase. I had to make the decision many of us visually impaired computer users have to, to Mac or not to Mac.
 
I did a lot of due diligence and investigated the pros and cons with both the Mac and PC operating systems. While things have certainly changed these days, one of the most annoying things to me was how ZoomText slowed my computer to a crawl. I really wanted in my next computer a screen reader that was built into the operating system.
 
Additionally, 2009 marked the year I switched from a Blackberry over to the iPhone 3GS as I went to a seminar at the Lighthouse in New York City where a rep from Apple demonstrated the iPhone 3GS and how VoiceOver worked. To say the least, I came away very impressed with Apple and the iPhone, and ran out to get the iPhone 3GS. So when it came time for me to get a new computer I was quite interested in VoiceOver on the Mac. At the time, VoiceOver wasn’t very widely talked about. After pricing things out, and taking in to consideration how much JAWS would cost on top of buying a new PC, I was surprised to learn that an iMac would be cheaper. I made the plunge.
 
I got home and was blown away at the ease of unboxing the iMac and just having to plug one plug in. Previously most of my computers had been through Dell and Compaq, where your computer would arrive in a few boxes with all kinds of peripherals you had to hook up. Of course this was five years ago, so I am sure things have changed on the PC side of things since than. 
 
I got my iMac up and running, and was ready to dive in. After a few minutes I was completely lost and frustrated. I had heard that using a Mac was easy. Having never used a Mac and not knowing any keyboard shortcuts, I was ready to throw the iMac out the window, which wasn’t an option as I needed the computer.  I still had my old PC hooked up and began using it to research the web and how in the world to use a Mac. To say I was lost was an understatement. Fortunately for me, I came across a guy who I had never heard of, and we all know quite well now, David Woodbridge. I discovered his podcasts through the Vision Australia website and how to get started using a Mac. I dove in to his instructional lessons as if they were religious scriptures. I then connected with a fellow blind techie in NYC who was also teaching himself to use the Mac, and the two of us started bouncing ideas off each other and figuring out workarounds on the Mac. It was at this time that I discovered the AppleVis website, which back in 2010 was solely focused on the iPhone and had some reviews of apps and how they worked with VoiceOver.
 
Like anything in life, you get out of it what you put in to it. I spent the next three months using the iMac every waking hour. I had to teach myself all of the keyboard shortcuts. The pro was I never had used keyboard shortcuts or JAWS on the PC side, so I didn’t have to replace any PC keystrokes in my muscle memory with new ones, I just had to learn the Mac keyboard shortcuts from the beginning. 
 
Flash forward to 2013. I am very proficient on the Mac, and love it. Did it take time? Sure. Was there a lot of frustration? Definitely. Do I consider making the jump to the Mac a good move? You betcha. Am I an expert on the Mac? Definitely not, and I still do rely on my network of blind Mac users anytime I have a problem. Thankfully, in 2013 there are several email lists, Twitter contacts, and of course the AppleVis website for us to get answers about all things Mac, iPhone, and VoiceOver. Apple even has a dedicated phone line for VoiceOver users, and yes for those of you who don’t have it, it is 877-204-3930.
 
So what do I hope to bring to the AppleVis Editorial Team? I hope to contribute helpful blogs on both the iPhone and Mac computers, and be yet another voice that people in the blind community can rely on.
 
And for those of you wondering, no I have not upgraded to Mavericks. I am pretty happy on Mountain Lion, and learned a long time ago if it ain't broke don’t fix it. I do plan to upgrade to Mavericks eventually, but not until I hear about less bugs while using VoiceOver. If you are asking yourself if you should upgrade to Mavericks, you need to ask yourself, what is most important to you, and can you live with the individual bugs. It all comes down to personal preference, and it is great that we can all make the decision when to upgrade.

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17 Comments

I bought the Mabok pro.

Hi.
I bought a macbook pro about a year ago, unfortuanetly i was one of those that did it just "cause." Do I regret it? Hmm kind of. I'm used to windows and like the voices like eloquence and e speak. I'm not a big fan of the human sounding voices because, well for me at least, they lack inflection.
But on the other hand, I might end up using my mac side of the mac when I move out.
To see if there's any apps on cooking and things like that, for example.

Do I think the mac is bad? No way, do I think windows crashes a lot? Yeah, do I like windows still? yes. What about the mac, would I recommend it? I would if you are willing to put in the time to learn the shortcuts, unlike I did :)
Another thing, don't just get it because some people might say access is better on the mac, or because you here podcast's on it and want it, or because you can pay it off in stages. Get the mac because you want to, and you no you're going to use it.
I made all those mistakes above, so trust me, I know what I'm talking about.

Will I use windows more than my mac. probably. Will i find apps on cooking on the ap store for the mac? yeah maybe, will I enjoy both experiences? Yep.
So in closing, by a mac if you want to and have the money, do not by a mac if you think it's cool or the access is great. test it out if you can first, make sure you like the way the mac or windows if you're trying that, feels and make sure over all, that you will be happy with the machine.

Oh and just one more thing, 2 USB ports for me, isn't good. That's one downside I found with the macbook pro.

Great Post

Hello everyone. This is a very nice post. After using an AppleIIE or 2, I was a PC user starting with JAWS for DOS back in the mid-90's. Then I moved to JAWS for Windows when that came out, and I have subsequently used all the screen readers except for Hal/Supernova. A few years ago for Christmas, my parents gave me a Dell laptop. I ran both NVDA and System Access to Go on it, with access to my SAMNet account via www.satogo.com . Although things worked okay for the most part on the laptop, it had to be sent back to Dell not once but twice. The first time was due to a corrupt hard drive, probably due to an overloaded system. When I received the laptop back, everything worked great up until a couple years ago when my hard drive failed again. To cut a long story short, that was the end of that laptop. So for awhile I only used my desktop PC, which still works okay but it seems to be on its last leg too. But when I was at my parents' house last year over Thanksgiving, they bounced the idea off me about getting a Mac. At the time I wasn't too keen on the idea, for various reasons. But all that changed when I accompanied my parents and a sister who is visually impaired to our local Apple store. This sister was also in the market for a Mac. Having never used Macs before, we weren't sure quite what to expect. Some other family members had used various current Apple products for a few years, but they're all fully sighted. Immediately upon entering the Apple store, we ran into someone who asked if we needed help. Thus began our journey into the Mac. The guys assisting us that day were great. They got VoiceOver going on a Mac Book Air, and briefly demonstrated various features. We ended up purchasing that very same Mac for myself. It wasn't long before this sister got a Mac Book Air as well. Due to circumstances which I won't go into on here, she hasn't had quite as much general computer experience as I have, but I've been helping her out. She has also been receiving help from some trainers at the Apple store and a life-skills tutor from an organization of which I'm a member. I'll only speak for myself here, but I am thrilled. VoiceOver is excellent and Mavericks seems very stable.

Office 2016?

Office 2016 has Ben announced by Microsoft its very accessible with VoiceOver

Very nice blog!

Hello. Thanks for writing this blog. it helped me a lot. I am planning to buy a mac, and I am 100%sure! I am using a mac computer in my college library, and I love it! again, Thanks for making ME definite.

Not to mac

Give me my Windows 10 and jaws.