mac for college

Hello folks, I will be attending college next year and I will be using a mac for this journey in life. I have several questions that will either cause me to go back to Windows or stick with the mac. 1. How accessible is VMWare Fusion and when running Windows on mac do I have to instal a Windows screen reader or will VoiceOver still work. 2. how accessible is Apple iWork? As you know being able to write documents and create spreadsheets and powerpoints are a must in college.

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#1 VMWare Fusion Accessible as of late 2011

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Hi, The following Mac App Directory post may be of interest to you: http://www.applevis.com/mac-app-directory/utilities/vmware-fusion. It appears that VMWare Fusion 4.1.1 is accessible. As for your other questions...I too am interested in answers from those who are more familiar with Macs.

#2 IWork and Fusion

Two issues with iWork that I have found to be particularly deal braking: 1. You can make tables in Textedit (not iWork, I know) or Pages with Voiceover, but Voiceover doesn't read column and row coordinates let alone headers so have fun not knowing where you are in the table. and 2: In Keynote, Voiceover will let you insert and fill slides but will not advise you of slides overlapping, holding too much text, etc. and actually 3: Voiceover with Blackboard, which you will probably unfortunately have to use to get documents and do assignments for at least some of your courses, is a nightmare wrapped in a blanket of disappointment resting on a bed of broken dreams. Voiceover will fail to find some page elements when it's not having a full-on freakout where it just says "busy" a thousand times. If you're getting a Mac, make real sure you have Fusion up and running right away so you can access Blackboard. Regarding Fusion: Use it with Voiceover, love it, it works like a dream. You can save your money and install NVDA from NVDA-Project.org. It's a free open-source screen reader which should do you fine unless you need to use Powerpoint, in which case you can probably just go to a library and use JAWS when the need arises. If you like, you can install JAWS, ZoomText, Magic, System Access, or Kurzweil: I've tried them all with no major problems. JAWS may have some funky authorization issues, especially if you go in and change the RAM and processor allocations for your virtual machine after installing JAWS, but get your VM the way you like it before installing JAWS, or avoid JAWS entirely, and you should be fine. People, if I'm wrong on any of this do please call me on it. These observations are in some cases a few months old and may be past their expiration dates. Anyone have luck with tables in iWork, slide layouts, or Blackboard with Mac?

#3 Re IWork and Fusion

Chancey. I don't know enough about fusion and iWork to comment on them but regarding blackboard I will say this. I'm pretty sure that you've been using Blackboard 8.0. I believe the current version is 9. Have you tested that one at all? I only bring it up because it could be more or less compatible with VO than Blackboard 8.0. Depending on what school you're in they might use different versions of Blackboard.

#4 Some thoughts

1. You will need a Windows screen reader. 2. You won't be able to create complex documents with Pages - if you think inserting a table is complext. You won't have anything like the useability of Excell with Numbers and won't be able to create compicated spread sheets. You'll struggle to create presentations with Keynote and yu'you'll struggle to access presentations given to you. With a windows screen reader, you'd be able to create and access compicated presentations with little or no trouble. 3. So, you'll need Fusion, a Windows license, JAWS or Window Eyes (if you want to get complex with Office) and of course Office for Windows. That Mac with the free screen reader isn't looking so cheap right now is it? 4. If you drop office and use Google Docs, you won't need any of the above and it is claimed you'll be able to get through your course as easilly as if you were using Windows. 6. Having a Mac that is also a Windows machine is the best of both worlds, but it means you are paying for everything twice and learning to use everything twice. This is an additional burden your sighted fellows don't have to deal with and in my opinion, seems like making work for yourself just for the sake of having a Mac.

#5 Blackboard 8.0 vs 9.0

Good point. I haven't had the chance to test 9, but when I asked the folks at IBTC if 9 worked with Mac, they said no. That was in February though. Anyone willing to try it and report back?

#6 Blackboard 9.1

Apparently Blackboard 9.1 received an award from NFB for their accessibility So it's definitely worth checking out. Unfortunately, it doesn't say which screen readers it's compatible with. Does anyone have access to Blackboard 9.1? Here's their accessibility page where the award is mentioned... http://www.blackboard.com/Platforms/Learn/Resources/Accessibility.aspx

#7 The Mac and college

Hi, I'm a college student going for a BA in music concentrating in Sound Engineering. I use a mac basically for audio manipulation and a few other things. I should preface that I have enough vision in my right eye to use the onboard magnifier but when it comes to writing papers, power points, spreadsheets etc I prefer windows with either NVDA or Window eyes, Jaws, or System Access. Pages is accessible only to a point. You'll never get to reading a document that is more than a page long and you'll have to go through menus to find things and it just takes a long time to format in Pages and is inconsistent and time consuming. Don't get me wrong I like my mac and will continue to use it. But, I'd highly recommend that you either buy a small ultra book with your mac purchase or just get a windows laptop or even desktop if you want. Again the mac is good if your becoming an audio editor but that's basically it. Thanks for reading, Eagle Scout Aaron Linson STN Producer http://www.signaltonoise.com