I'm posting today, to put a thought into words, and to get some feedback as well I guess. I am not trying to open a can of worms, (Even though I know some how I will).
I also understand and respect that this is an Apple forum, and am posting here because to my understanding, generally speaking, the best use of a mouse with a screen reader, and as well, understanding screen, app real estate, may come with Apples Mac, and Voiceover, , and a touch track pad, as well as the use of iOS.
I had an interesting experience, at work yesterday. I sat with a sighted computer user, who primarily drove the workstation with the mouse, other than typing into edit fields. I knew what applications she was using, as I use them with JAWS. I understand, the mental application layout, at least from a screen reader and keyboard command prospective. Believe it or not, this was the first time in my life, that I felt I was with a compitent sighted computer user, and on top of that knowing where they were going, what they were doing, I found myself in ah, of how quick they drove around, as well as ease of use.
I understand there are a lot of us, compitent blind computer users. I believe myself to be one. I believe I am quick, and have a lot of keystrokes memmorised. We as blind users have to trust, and think ahead much of the time, we don't allow the screen reader to finish reading the output of the commands we are giving the computer before moving forward because we know, trust what it is going to do. What I believe I realised yesterday, is, it may be, one or two mouse clicks as a sighted user, to 5 to 10 of our keystrokes. It's as if your, listening to an entire song as you look at the screen, and gaining information, vs, listening to each stem of that song as you move line by line with a screen reader. I am so thankful for all of the work that has been done in the accessibility arrena, so blessed because of it on a day to day basses, and I realise I am sounding, perhaps somewhat selfish, but in the future, might there be a quicker, less mind bending way for us as blind users to navigate a computer?
Mind bending you say? possibly out loud as you read this post.
No, I am not trying to wine or complain, I truly promise, I don't mean that it is mentaly hard for me to drive a computer with the keyboard and accessibility, of course not, but seeing the ease of use that a sighted user navigated yesterday, it is, in some weird odd way, maybe, so, and for some accessibility users more than others, as we are all on a different level.
Take Microsoft Edge for example. As I have navigated it with a screen reader, and may get lost as I am tabbing through, f6 brings me to the list of tabs. I believe this list is at the top of the screen. As a sighted user, I didn't verify, but I believe one may be able to quickly jump to the top with the mouse curser, click on a different tab, and in a split second be there, instead of control+tabbing through all the open tabs, or cycling around with F6, to get to the tabs list, hitting left or right arrow, and then hitting space or enter. As I mentioned above, it may be, one click to several keystrokes. I do also realize this doesn't hold true in every app, everywhere.
I don't know what the answer is, if there is a different answer than we already have, but it's interesting and fassinating to ponder.
Might there be, in the future, a touch pad for example, that would not show the taskbar or desktop to confuse the user, but just show the real estate of the app in focus so that one may more quickly learn a way to navigate with a screen reader?
Thank you for reading. I am interested in thoughts from both sides of the table, from sighted users who understand screen readers, as well as blind users, who may have once been sighted and understand both sides of the coin, if it were.
What do you think?
Productivity gurus also recommend keyboard
A computer screen is always dynamic. Alerts pop up, advertisements distract us, and we have to make sense of the data. Also, the blind have to orient themselves on the screen. Also, as in IOS, many apps stop working, and one needs to find a replacement; so we are forced to learn and understand a new app. If braille displays become very affordable, then, we may be able to speed up the process. Or else, it is going to be the same old method.
I've used both control…
I've used both control paradigms extensively. Sighted people have the advantage of viewing an entire screen holistically, whereas we expose one single element at a time. They also utilize spatial navigation, whereas we utilize temporal navigation. Basically, they track objects with pixels on a 2D plane, and we track objects through sound along a 1D timeline.
To counter your example, head into your browser and hit cmd and a number on the number row to switch to that corresponding tab quickly. Personally, I find this faster and easier than visually tracking a row of tabs. I also open pages in separate browser windows on uh... Windows for further organization. My point is, there are ways around losing that holistic, spatial navigation. It's not perfect, but you can get surprisingly fast at a lot of stuff.
I use keyboard all my life
cause I am totally blind since birth. I never use a mouse! and I use keyboard most of the time.
if you are familiar with keystroke it can be faster than using mouse
@JennaPepper Thank you
Thank you for this description. This makes sence. Your thoughts caused me to research keystrokes for MS Edge, and I found that Control+1 through Control+8 will quickly take me to the different open tabs, as long as I remember the order. This is a big help! Thanks.
An Interesting Article
Here is an article with an interesting perspective on this. Basically, it concludes that the best way for blind people to use computers is the command line, since command line interfaces are text-based conversations that provide no more output than necessary, compared to a graphical user interface which provides a huge amount of output taken in all at once by sighted people but often navegated item by item using a screen reader.
The author of this article wrote a program called Edbrowse, which is an extension of the original UNIX text editor called Ed. Its interface is very different than almost all other text editors or word processors. The file is not displayed as a whole, and the only output it produces is responses to the user's commands. For example, to read the first line of the file, you type "1" and press enter. To move to and read the next line, you just press enter. To skip two lines, you would type "+++". To read the previous line, you type a hyphen and press enter. To insert a line, or more than one, you could type "a" and press enter, type your text, and then end insertion mode by typing a period on a blank line and pressing enter. Searching for text is very fast compared with most editors. For example, "/test" searches for the word "test". Far more complex forms are supported, for instance "/^[0-9]+." will move to the next line that begins with one or more digits followed by a period.
Edbrowse extends Ed by letting you browse the web using this interface. For example, to search Google, you would type "<gg" followed by what you want to search for. After printing some other text, the last line of output is the title of the first result. If you wish to open the first result, you would type "g", otherwise "/h3" will move to the next result, since Google search results are marked as level 3 headings. Pressing enter will eventually read the URL of the result and the description.
I regularly use an iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, as well as a Windows laptop with NVDA and JAWS, a ChromeBook tablet with ChromeVox, and an Amazon Fire tablet running Android with VoiceView, and I use both speech and braille, so I have experienced a lot of interfaces, although I am blind from birth so I have no experience with sight. I agree that keyboard shortcuts definitely improve productivity and diminish the disadvantages of a graphical interface. I have also found a braille display to be very helpful especially on iOS, as well as VoiceOver features like the rotor and the find command. However, there are still times when I can do something a lot faster on the Linux command line than I could on my iPad or on Windows. The command line often has a steep learning curve, and I often have to find other ways to do things, but I have still found it to have significant advantages. For example, when I need to create formatted documents with things like headings and lists, or mathematical equations, instead of using Pages or Microsoft Word, I often write my documents in Markdown using Edbrowse and convert them with Pandoc. Markdown allows you to specify formatting with simple characters like "#" for headings, and Pandoc can convert Markdown to many formats including Microsoft Word and PDF.