After getting fed up with the general neglect of MacOS accessibility from Apple, and having wanted to work on something meaningful for quite some time, I decided to attempt something that for some reason nobody seems to have tried to do before: write a completely new screen-reader for that platform. This isn't an easy task, not only due to the amount of work required to even get close to matching a mature screen-reader in terms of functionality, but also because Apple's documentation for more obscure system services is nigh on non-existent. Despite that, and since I've already overcome a lot of hurdles that I thought to be show stoppers, after a single week of work I already have something to show in a very embryonic stage of development. The idea is to gage the interest of the community in a project similar to NVDA for the Mac to be worked on in the coming years and to which other people can contribute.
The project is called Vosh, which is a contraction between Vision and Macintosh, though the name isn't set in stone yet so if you wish to suggest something different feel free to do so. The code for the project isn't available yet since I haven't even done my first local commit as I'm still learning the ins and outs of Apple's consumer side of the accessibility framework and thus will likely end up refactoring the whole thing, but once I feel comfortable with the structure of the code I will post it to my personal GitHub profile for everyone to see and modify as they please, and will also start accepting code contributions. At the moment the only thing this project does is to allow navigating the accessibility of every app, reading everything and moving the keyboard focus as it attempts to read the contents of every accessibility element, though there's a lot to do to even get close to matching the level of sophistication of VoiceOver, which employs a number of hacks to make things feel as smooth as possible to the end-user. One such hack is the flattening of the accessibility tree which tends to be very shallow particularly on Safari where the accessibility tree can actually be quite deep. It is my intention to make navigating with Vosh as close as possible to navigating with NVDA. For that reason I will try my best to copy its behavior and laptop keyboard commands as much as possible so that Windows NVDA users can feel more at home while using a Mac.
Before posting this I also posted a demo video to YouTube where I show that it is already possible to do some very basic navigation of websites like reddit using Vosh, though very inconveniently both due to the fact that I haven't implemented semantic navigation or the aforementioned accessibility tree flattening hack employed by VoiceOver. I apologize in advance for my diction since, while I write English every day, I rarely speak the language, and it is also not my native language, so if you don't understand something I say feel free to ask here. I also apologize about the quality of the video, as the original file was almost a gigabyte in size so I kind of over-reduced the resolution resulting in a huge degrade to image quality that I wasn't quite aware of until someone sighted actually watched it.