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Jonathan Mosen: Hi, it’s Jonathan Mosen, and welcome back to Mosen At Large; the show that’s got the blind community talking. On the show today, iOS 15.1 is out with SharePlay, Heidi and I demonstrate IT. JAWS 2022 is released as well. We begin our series on the Chromebook with ChromeVox, and Bonnie is back.
Speaker 1: Mosen At Large podcast.
Jonathan Mosen: At the beginning of this week, Apple released iOS 15.1, and this has a really big new feature in that was foreshadowed at WWDC all the way back in June of this year; and it’s the SharePlay feature. This allows you to do more than just listen to music and watch videos with your friends, although that’s pretty cool in itself. Let’s explore this with the famous Apple correspondent for Mosen At Large, the artist formerly known as Heidi Mosen, now known as Heidi Taylor. To do that, I’m going to give her a call on the actual FaceTime. FaceTime Heidi Taylor.
Siri: Making a FaceTime call to Heidi Taylor, mobile.
Alex: Portrait FaceTime video. Call me button. Heidi Taylor, FaceTime video.
Heidi Taylor: Hello.
Jonathan Mosen: I thought that you were asleep for a while there.
Heidi Taylor: Sorry.
Jonathan Mosen: Welcome to Mosen At Large.
Heidi Taylor: Thank you, welcome.
Jonathan Mosen: How are you enjoying iOS 15, since we haven’t really talked to you on Mosen At Large since it was released?
Heidi Taylor: I like it. Yeah. I really like the new Safari. I know it’s quite controversial, some people don’t, but I’m quite enjoying it.
Jonathan Mosen: With the repositioned address bar and that kind of stuff?
Heidi Taylor: Yeah.
Jonathan Mosen: Well, for those who find it controversial, they can switch it back, can’t they?
Heidi Taylor: Yes.
Jonathan Mosen: There you go. Do you use the focus modes?
Heidi Taylor: Not much.
Jonathan Mosen: That’s my favorite feature in iOS 15, but another really cool feature is the SharePlay thing. This will be the first time you’ve used it, right? Because you just installed it for this podcast.
Heidi Taylor: Yes, I did.
Jonathan Mosen: SharePlay allows you to work with compatible apps, and if you’re going to use something like Apple TV+ in the TV app or Netflix, potentially Disney+, those things, you will have to have an active subscription. Why don’t you go into, say, the music app and see if we can get Mushroom FM going?
Heidi Taylor: Okay.
Jonathan Mosen: You should be able to just go into the app. Go to your home screen and then go to the app.
Heidi Taylor: Yep.
Jonathan Mosen: What are you doing? Give us some audio description, man.
Heidi Taylor: Sorry. I have opened the Music app and now I am searching for Mushroom FM, and it’s come up and so I will tap on it. I have a popup. It says, SharePlay music content. SharePlay lets you experience content with other people on FaceTime. “Music” may be able to determine who uses SharePlay together in the app. I can choose SharePlay, Start Only For Me or Cancel.
Jonathan Mosen: Okay then.
Heidi Taylor: I guess I’ll choose SharePlay.
Jonathan Mosen: Good idea, or this demo would be useless.
Heidi Taylor: Unable to SharePlay. This media type is unavailable while using SharePlay in the Music app.
Jonathan Mosen: Well, that’s a bit disappointing. Why don’t we search for a song on music then? Like Don’t Shut Me Down by ABBA, which is one of the best songs in the world to in the world today.
Heidi Taylor: Okay, I will search for Don’t Shut Me Down.
Jonathan Mosen: Do you play it on a daily basis?
Heidi Taylor: No.
Jonathan Mosen: I do. I play it several times a day.
Heidi Taylor: Okay.
Alex: Heidi Taylor, Don’t Shut Me Down by ABBA.
Heidi Taylor: It says Don’t Shut Me Down for Jonathan Mosen.
Jonathan Mosen: Yeah. Now we’ve got this notification that’s popped up at my end.
Alex: Heidi Taylor, button. Heidi Taylor started Don’t Shut Me Down . ABBA. Leave call, button. Open messages, selected. Audio/mute, off. Camera. Share content, button. Open app share content, open. Join SharePlay.
Jonathan Mosen: Join SharePlay. There we go.
Alex: Join SharePlay. Me, button. Participant shutter, button. Effects, button. Flipped [crosstalk [00:04:26]-
Jonathan Mosen: I think
Alex: Join SharePlay.
Jonathan Mosen: If I double tap join SharePlay,
Alex: Join SharePlay for Don’t Shut Me Down with Heidi Taylor. SharePlay lets you experience content with other people on FaceTime. Music may be able to determine who uses SharePlay together in the app.
Jonathan Mosen: Yep. That’s the same prompt that you got.
Alex: Join SharePlay, button.
Jonathan Mosen: Now there’s a join SharePlay button.
Alex: Music, radio heading.
Jonathan Mosen: I think it should now be ready, yep.
Heidi Taylor: Yeah, and it says two listening on my end now.
Jonathan Mosen: Now, what’s interesting is that when one of us talks, it ducks. If you say something and then stop, we’ll hear it actually fade back up.
Heidi Taylor: Right, yeah. It’s telling me about living clueless. I hear it too when I talk at this point.
Jonathan Mosen: That’s really cool, isn’t it?
Heidi Taylor: That is cool.
Jonathan Mosen: Now, I can stop it, I think. Can I stop it? I’m worried about doing a two finger double tap in case I disconnect us.
Heidi Taylor: Right.
Jonathan Mosen: I’ll try and… Oh, hang on.
Alex: Apple Music, play, button. Play, but unable to SharePlay. Heidi Taylor left.
Jonathan Mosen: Oh, and the two finger double tap does appear to have disconnected the call.
Alex: There’s media type.
Jonathan Mosen: All right. We’ll call back, FaceTime Heidi Taylor.
Siri: Making a FaceTime call to Heidi Taylor, mobile.
Alex: Heidi Taylor FaceTime video call. Me, button.
Heidi Taylor: You hang up on me.
Jonathan Mosen: You’re probably asking me for money.
Heidi Taylor: What? I was just jamming to ABBA with you.
Jonathan Mosen: The moral of the story is don’t do a two finger double tap to try and stop that content playing. Presumably, it works with Apple TV+ as well.
Heidi Taylor: I would assume so.
Jonathan Mosen: Yeah. Should we try one episode, say, of foundation or something like that just to see? Now, actually what’s interesting is-
Heidi Taylor: Did you want to try start it at this time?
Jonathan Mosen: Okay. What will be interesting is you have no audio description on the TV and I do. Presumably, because we’re not actually streaming the content, I don’t believe, you should get the episode without audio description and I should get it with audio description, I believe.
Heidi Taylor: We can just [crosstalk [00:07:05]-
Jonathan Mosen: I’m going to go to the home screen and now, “Bring up Braille screen input.”
Alex: Braille screen input or your [inaudible [00:07:12] TV. Three apps, TV.
Jonathan Mosen: Going to the TV app.
Alex: Opening TV. Selected, TV tab bar. Watch now tab, wonderful.
Jonathan Mosen: What have we got?
Alex: The Morning Show continues S2 E1 and movies, button. Foundation continues S1 E1. Ted Lasso, next S1 E5.
Jonathan Mosen: We’ll play that.
Alex: Apple TV+.
Jonathan Mosen: Ted Lasso.
Alex: Alert, SharePlay TV content. SharePlay lets you experience content with other-
Jonathan Mosen: There’s the SharePlay invitation.
Alex: SharePlay, button.
Jonathan Mosen: Double tap that
Alex: TV, media.
Heidi Taylor: Yeah, and it’s given me an option to join on my end.
Speaker 3: Words appear. An Apple original, a Warner Brothers television production.
Jonathan Mosen: Have you joined?
Speaker 3: [crosstalk [00:08:00] shuts the passenger side door but-
Jonathan Mosen: Now, are you getting audio description?
Speaker 3: He hustles to the driver’s side and [crosstalk [00:08:07]-
Heidi Taylor: No.
Jonathan Mosen: Let me see if I can…
Speaker 3: Shoulder length hair.
Alex: Describe images of current position, time [inaudible [00:08:15] AirPlay. Skip 15, pause, button. Play.
Jonathan Mosen: Now, this is really interesting because what it actually means is that let’s say we are all watching as a family. Technically what that means is… If we want it to be really antisocial and all watch on our own phones, what it means is that Bonnie and I could watch it and sync with everybody with audio description active, and we could have it, say, on the Apple TV. What’s what we would do. We could have it on the Apple TV with audio description off, SharePlay it so that Bonnie and I could watch it on the iPhone with audio description on, and then everybody gets what they want.
Heidi Taylor: That’s pretty cool. Can you SharePlay from an Apple TV?
Jonathan Mosen: Yes. I believe Apple TV now does have SharePlay.
Heidi Taylor: That’s cool.
Jonathan Mosen: Yes, so that would be really neat. Now, there are third party apps that also work with SharePlay and there’ll be an increasing number of them because there is a SharePlay API application programming interface available. One app I suggested that you get was this piano app that I understand works. Did you get that?
Heidi Taylor: Yes, I did.
Jonathan Mosen: Okay. Why don’t I run that app? We’ll just go to my home screen again here.
Alex: Picture-in-picture displayed. Moving picture-in-picture. Video controls visible.
Jonathan Mosen: Maybe I’ll just try and quit that app actually, just to be safe.
Alex: Describing TV, [inaudible [00:09:37] TV, close TV. Closing TV. Video controls visible. Music. Parent
Jonathan Mosen: Now, we’ll go to-
Alex: Page two of three. Page three of three, piano.
Jonathan Mosen: Here’s the piano app.
Alex: Piano settings, heading.
Jonathan Mosen: I am now in the piano app. Beautiful.
Heidi Taylor: There’s a button above the keyboard, which I can only assume is called SharePlay, it’s the SharePlay logo. When I tap it on, it leads me… Tap on it, it leads me choose to SharePlay, the app.
Jonathan Mosen: Do you want to try?
Heidi Taylor: Yep.
Jonathan Mosen: What are you getting?
Heidi Taylor: It says, started piano with friends for Jonathan Mosen.
Jonathan Mosen: Can you play anything?
Heidi Taylor: I’m pushing keys, are you getting anything?
Jonathan Mosen: No. Are you hearing it at your end?
Heidi Taylor: Yes. Is there-
Jonathan Mosen: Oh, you’re hearing-
Heidi Taylor: Something you have to accept, maybe.
Jonathan Mosen: Okay. Let’s see.
Alex: Audio, heavy sounds. Tuning for decrement. Images are for… Describing horizontals; C8, B7, G7. Describe image, A7. Describe images, settings, closed by audio head sounds, tuning, increment, velocity, decrement, increment. Interface. Setting, close, button.
Jonathan Mosen: I’ll press the setting button.
Alex: Video. Microphone 34 [inaudible [00:11:20]-
Jonathan Mosen: Just close the app.
Jonathan Mosen: Maybe that’s not accessible, let me just try again.
Alex: Piano, SharePlay, button.
Jonathan Mosen: Oh, there we go.
Alex: SharePlay. Alert, SharePlay piano content. SharePlay lets you experience… SharePlay, button. Alert, replace piano with friends, this will end the existing SharePlay. Replace existing, button.
Jonathan Mosen: Okay, I’ll do it.
Alex: Piano SharePlay, button.
Jonathan Mosen: Now, are you getting a notification?
Heidi Taylor: It said Jonathan Mosen started piano with friends and I can… I tapped on that and it says… Then there’s an open button.
Jonathan Mosen: Okay, I hear you now. I hear you playing.
Heidi Taylor: I’m not very precise.
Jonathan Mosen: Now I’m playing.
Heidi Taylor: Yeah. I can hear that too.
Jonathan Mosen: Can you play Twinkle Twinkle again, and I’ll see if I can do it with you.
Heidi Taylor: Okay.
Jonathan Mosen: That is really cool because it’s in perfect sync, isn’t it?
Heidi Taylor: Pretty much.
Jonathan Mosen: Yeah, and there are all sorts of other apps that do third party SharePlay like CARROT Weather and that stuff. I’m not sure how accessible it is to initiate the SharePlay session from a voiceover perspective, so I’d have to play with that a bit more, but I guess even if you had one blind person and one sighted person getting it up and running, you could have a go. Know any other tunes?
Heidi Taylor: The only one I can remember is Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
Jonathan Mosen: If you hold down the space bar, you get a bit of sustain.
Heidi Taylor: I don’t have a keyboard connected.
Jonathan Mosen: Very good. Well, thank you for this short demo of SharePlay. It’s got lots of practical benefits, I think. It’s really cool that you can have these watching parties and audio ducks when you talk. You can have a conversation about the movie or while you’re listening to the music that you are enjoying together. You’ve got all these third party apps. It’s quite a collection already and it’s only been out a week. I’m sure there’ll be even more third party apps that integrate SharePlay. I think it’s a really cool feature.
Heidi Taylor: Yeah. It’s really fun.
Jonathan Mosen: Lovely. Well, thank you for being on Mosen At Large again.
Heidi Taylor: You’re welcome.
Jonathan Mosen: If you want to try that app that we were playing with, it is called piano with friends. I’ll have to play to see how accessible it is. A few more points to note about SharePlay. The first is that you can share your screen with someone via SharePlay. If you want to, you can give someone a call and if there’s an inaccessible app or something like that, or maybe you want to go through your photos with a human, with a family member, you can share your screen. They can assist you, but what they can’t do is control your device. If you have an inaccessible app, that’s playing up, somebody can have a look and tell you what’s going on, but they can’t tap anything for you. In typical Apple fashion, they have thought of privacy ramifications of this.
If you are SharePlay-ing your screen with someone and you get a notification, whether it be from your email client or a text message, or a breaking news app, that notification will not be shared with anybody who is viewing your screen. Let me revisit the question of using an Apple TV in conjunction with SharePlay because I mentioned to Heidi that you could do this. This does not mean that the Apple TV has all of a sudden got a FaceTime app. What happens is that if you’re nearby an Apple TV, you can choose to switch your playback over to that Apple TV to watch the video content.
One of the really cool things about SharePlay is that there is a shared cue in Apple Music. It means that once you’ve got the SharePlay session established, you can do a joint DJ thing. You could have a large number of people on a FaceTime call, all enjoying SharePlay and adding songs to the playlist, which I think is just a really fun feature when you’ve got a group people together from anywhere in the world just sharing and building a playlist in real time. SharePlay is definitely a big winning feature in this round of Apple software updates. I hope you have fun playing with that. If you do, let me know how you are using it and what you think of it.
Speaker 1: Mosen At Large podcast.
Jonathan Mosen: Following a period of public beta testing, Vispero has released JAWS 2022. Those of you who are familiar with JAWS know that JAWS typically works on an annual cadence, where you get a major release at about this time every year. What has changed over the years is that you do get regular updates throughout the year, some of which contain a whole bunch of useful features. It’s not so much the case anymore that you would get one big drop with a lot of features, and that was your lot for a year. I think that customers are probably better off that way because it means the development team can continue to work on things, and you and I get them as soon as they’re ready. As always, Freedom Scientifics channels are a good place to go to find out all of the new things that are in JAWS.
If you go to the help menu in JAWS and then choose what’s new, you get a text list there of the new features. Freedom Scientific’s own channels have a lot of information on what is new in JAWS as well, but there are a few things I wanted to highlight about JAWS 2022 and comment on. One feature of the way that JAWS works is different from most software programs. It isn’t unique to JAWS, but it is rare. That is, that when you install a big annual version of JAWS, you don’t override the previous one. This actually does have some advantages because screen reading is so important. If by chance Vispero has missed something that’s unique to your particular configuration, you can always go back to the previous version of JAWS, leave it on your system. Some people do have multiple versions of jaws configured for different scenarios.
In JAWS 2022, Vispero, it seems, has attempted to cater to most users who probably are used to installing a new version of a piece of software and having all their settings carry over without any fuss. You do this when you install a new version of Microsoft Office, when you install a new version of iOS on your phone, pretty much every other scenario that you can think of. In the past, with JAWS, you have been prompted to migrate. I have to say that for years, that feature has never worked for me. If I wanted to copy my settings over from a previous version of JAWS, I would have to do it manually and that’s no problem at all. You can just go into the JAWS settings, ENU folder in my case, select or copy all those files and then paste them to the equivalent folder in the new version of JAWS. It’s not that difficult to do.
The behavior is different though, in JAWS 2022. If you do an install and you accept all the defaults, what will happen is that things will migrate silently. It’ll look for the most recent version of JAWS that you have. If you’re current, you’ll have JAWS 2021 on your system, and then it will copy the files across to your JAWS 2022 folder without you having to do anything. Now, there are some people who won’t like this, but in my opinion the vast majority will appreciate the fact that it just does its thing. Those who want something different are most likely power users, And they will be able to take remedial steps. There are a couple of remedial steps you can take. One is that when you do the install, there is now a checkbox that disables the silent migration.
You can check that box and tell JAWS not to copy everything across. You will then have a clean version of JAWS, so you can configure it as new the way you want, or you can manually copy across those script files that you want to copy across. The other option that you have is that when the silent migration has completed, you can restore to factory defaults at any time. This could be a useful troubleshooting thing if you find that something is not behaving the way that you like.
You don’t want to do a complete uninstall and a reinstall, which would not necessarily fix the problem unless you’ve elected to remove your user settings when you do that. Now, the one thing that I would suggest is that before you do this drastic thing, you may be able to just press the JAWS key with space bar, followed by the letter Z, to toggle into JAWS default mode. That will get rid of any JAWS scripts that are currently active, anything custom that you have done, and set JAWS to behave like the default. If you find that that does resolve your problem, you may want to start from square one again, and here’s how you do that. If I go to the JAWS menu, which for me is in the system tray.
Tom: JAWS context menu. Option sub menu.
Jonathan Mosen: The options sub menu is first, so we’ll go in there.
Tom: Basic… B.
Jonathan Mosen: I’ll down arrow.
Tom: Voices sub menu, V. Rail… L. Manage application settings… M. Restore to factory settings… F. This is new in JAWS 2022, restore to factory settings. I’ll press enter. Leaving menus. Restore to factory settings dialogue. This option will delete all your current settings and restart JAWS, are you sure you want to continue, yes button.
Jonathan Mosen: I do not want to do that because I’ve got my JAWS customized the way I like, so I will press tab.
Tom: No button, Alt + N.
Jonathan Mosen: Of course, I can just press Alt + N and now I’m back in REAPER, safely away from that scary dialogue that will restore to factory settings. It’s not that scary, actually, because if you want, you can initiate a migration at any time to go back from any previous version of JAWS that you have on your system or at least the last couple. The next couple of things I want to show you in JAWS 2022 relates to the increasingly helpful and busy options that you have when you press the JAWS key with the space bar followed by V. Now, V used to stand for volume. But honestly, now there’s a lot of audio features here that aren’t necessarily volume related.
Nevertheless, there’s a lot of good stuff going on here. You may remember that during the JAWS 2021 cycle, Vispero added the option to separately adjust the system volume from the JAWS volume, which is very handy. Now, there are a couple of other tricks that you can do that I think are very useful. The first one is one that I’m not likely to use because of my hearing impairment but I can appreciate that this is going to be a feature that many people are going to love, and it’s the ability to root your JAWS speech to one side of the stereo spectrum and/or your other audio to the other.
At the moment, I’ve got everything set the way that I normally have it set. I’ve got Leasey installed from Hartgen consultancy. One of the features that Leasey has is the ability to call up a bunch of radio stations on demand. Mushroom FM runs a station called Mushroom Escape that plays a lot of drama, comedy, doing some audio described movies, and of course that’s where my kids show Small World is on a Sunday. I have that assigned to a Leasey command. If I activate that now, Leasey, and then we’ll push this key here.
Tom: Connecting to Mushroom Escape [crosstalk [00:22:36]-
Speaker 4: A year ago, I guess so. I forgot. What’s this bit about the stones?
Jonathan Mosen: This is normal behavior. I’ve got JAWS and the radio station coming through both channels in the stereo spectrum. Now, I’m going to press JAWS key with the space bar, and then the letter V for Victor, or in this case volume, I guess.
Jonathan Mosen: Now, I’m going to press B for balance.
Jonathan Mosen: I’m now going to press the left arrow. I’ve got some choices. I can press left arrow, right arrow, or up arrow. Left arrow will route JAWS to the left channel and everything else to the right. The right arrow will route jaws to the right channel and everything else to the left. Up arrow will set everything back to normal. I’ll press left arrow.
Jonathan Mosen: Now, JAWS is only in the left channel. Now, I’ll tell you something interesting about this. This is also a really easy way to work out if you have certain things wired correctly. When I’m using my computer, I have a cable that runs from my hearing aids to a 3.5 audio jack. It gives zero latency and it really allows me to be productive, but there’s no easy way tactually to tell which is the connector for the left hearing aid and which is the connector for the right. Sometimes, I get that wrong and I play a file that I’m familiar with to make sure that I have the correct channel cabled to the correct hearing aid. Now I’ve done this, I’m going to press the Leasey key.
Jonathan Mosen: Now my command to launch Mushroom Escape.
Tom: Connecting to Mushroom Escape.
Speaker 5: Sound off for Chesterfields.
Jonathan Mosen: Oh boy, those cigarette ads on the old radio shows. That’s how it works. You might find that this is useful when you’re wearing headphones, but equally, if you have stereo speakers connected, it could be an easy way to isolate your JAWS speech from everything else. I’m going to set it back to normal now, remember to do that. We press the JAWS key with space. Now, V for volume.
Jonathan Mosen: Now, B for balance.
Jonathan Mosen: All I have to do now is press the up arrow key.
Tom: Balance restored.
Jonathan Mosen: The balance is restored to the universe. Let’s have a look now at another thing that has been added in this layer, the volume layer, and this is a feature that will appeal to you if you have a lot of audio devices on your system. You probably already know that there is a way to tell JAWS which of your audio devices to use.
The one thing that catches most people out, in my experience, if they’re playing around with USB headsets and that sort of thing is that when they plug in something like an audio interface or new audio peripheral, people can often be surprised that JAWS just goes away or go somewhere that they don’t expect it to go. The reason for that is that by default and in my view, quite reasonably, JAWS uses whatever the default audio option is to send its speech out. That can get you into trouble. If you always want jaws to come out of a particular place, you should go into this dialogue which has been around for yonks… Let me show you.
Tom: JAWS context menu, option sub menu.
Jonathan Mosen: I’ll press U to get to the utilities menu. Voice assistance sub menu, S, and then O for sound cards.
Tom: Sound cards sub menu, O.
Jonathan Mosen: I’ll press enter.
Tom: Windows default sound card, w.
Jonathan Mosen: This is the default, and this is the thing that can get people into trouble when they plug in new peripherals. What I’ve done, if I just arrow through here…
Tom: Realtek digital output. Speakers 2 focus right. USB audio checked, S.
Jonathan Mosen: Now, at the moment, because I’m recording, I have this expressly set to one set of outputs of my focus right 8i6 audio interface, and I always expressly specify where JAWS’ speech is to go. That way, if I plug in a new audio peripheral, JAWS is not affected by the fact that I’ve plugged in a new audio peripheral. Now, if you haven’t done that, and you find yourself in a little bit of hot water, and your JAWS speech has gone somewhere, this dialogue is a bit difficult if you don’t have any Braille, because when you arrow through it, the changes don’t take immediate effect. Let’s go out of this now, press escape.
Tom: Leaving menus, 29.4-
Jonathan Mosen: Now I’m back in REAPER, which I’m using to record this demonstration. Let show you the new thing. I’ll go to the JAWS key with space, and V, volume. Now I’m going to press C, which I guess stands for card.
Tom: Sound cards.
Jonathan Mosen: Now, when I up and down arrow… You are probably not hearing that, but in my headphones I’m hearing that I’m now on the built-in sound of the Realtek audio that is built into this computer; typical, horrible, Realtek stuff, it takes immediate effect and I have a lot of audio choices here. All I have to do is up and down arrow through this list, and as soon as I make a change, that change takes immediate effect. If I up arrow again.
Tom: Speakers 2 focus right USB audio.
Jonathan Mosen: The speech is back where I need it to be, and I’ll just escape out of here, and the change has taken immediate effect. This is a very cool thing, and it will save people’s bacon on many occasions, I’m sure, if you just remember to do the JAWS key with space, and then V, and then C. Then you can up and down arrow until you start hearing speech, you’ll be back in business again. It’s a really cool feature. The final thing I want to talk about is JAWS with Microsoft Outlook. Overall, there is an increase in responsiveness in Microsoft office applications, and I actually think in JAWS generally… I don’t think I’m imagining this, JAWS just seems to be a little bit more responsive with this release. Vispero giveths and Vispero taketh away. In the process of refactoring their Microsoft Outlook support, I guess to take advantage of new technologies that Microsoft is exposing for them, we have lost the customize outlook message list feature.
I really do miss this a lot. I think it is a loss to the blind community that this feature is gone because while all of the functionality is still available, it’s much more convoluted to get the same thing done. What you used to be able to do in previous versions of JAWS was press the JAWS key with F2. Then in that list of managers, you would find an option, when you were in Microsoft Outlook, called customize outlook message list. For both speech and Braille, you would have columns that showed you all the fields that were visible and you could reorder them. You could also silence individual fields. It was a very friendly, elegant, and most important of all, efficient dialogue. Now that has gone, and so you can move your fields around by going into Microsoft Outlook’s own options. It’s going to take you a lot longer to get that done than it used to in previous versions of JAWS, but you can get used to getting it done.
Of course, this is where we get into all sorts of fun, philosophical, esoteric discussions about screen reader user interfaces because there will be some who are happy about the fact that this JAWS customize outlook utility has gone, because they say that it’s not necessary for a screen reader to duplicate functionality that is already available. That blind people are better served using the user interface that’s available to everybody, rather than have them teach something that is specific to a screen reader. I do get that point, but for me, the most important thing is getting things done efficiently. When I want to make a change, I want to get that change done as snappily as possible and get on with my work. As I say, one of the most important features of that customize Outlook utility was the ability to silence certain things.
I do not want to know, for example, when a message is unread, I know I haven’t read it. And for me having the word unread spoken as a prefix to every message in my inbox I haven’t read is verbiage I can do without.
What’s interesting is that even if you get rid of the field in the Outlook view options, so that you don’t visually see whether a message is unread or not, Microsoft is still exposing that information to screen readers, and most screen readers including Narrator, are still reading that information.
So although we have lost the customize Outlook message list, Vispero has given us a new way to control that level of verbosity. I’m going to ALT+Tab into Microsoft outlook.
Tom: Inbox, primary mail Outlook.
Jonathan Mosen: I’m in Outlook now, and I’m going to press the JAWS key with V for verbosity, since we no longer have that message list customization, this is the logical place to put this feature.
Tom: Dialogue, search box edit, control plus E.
Jonathan Mosen: I’m going to press the tab key.
Tom: Preview, zero reading options, open, 16 items.
Jonathan Mosen: I’m going to press the left arrow to close reading options.
Tom: Reading Options, closed, one of 12.
Jonathan Mosen: Now I’m going to press down arrow.
Tom: Message status open.
Jonathan Mosen: And now we’re into the branch of the verbosity settings controlling message status. When I down arrow here.
Tom: One, indicate unread, not checked. One of three message status.
Jonathan Mosen: Thank goodness, I’ve said this so that I don’t hear the word unread before every single unread message.
Tom: Indicate replied checked.
Jonathan Mosen: I have got this one set so that I know that I’ve replied to a message and finally.
Tom: Indicate forwarded, checked.
Jonathan Mosen: This one tells me when I forwarded a message I could probably do without this one on, but I’ll leave it on for now. So, that’s how you control what JAWS is speaking in the message list. If you want to control the order of things, well, now we go into the view menu of outlook.
Tom: Upper ribbon, view tab alt, V.
Jonathan Mosen: That’s right. You press alt V and now I press tab menu.
Tom: Change view sub menu, change the current view to another view. alt, V, CB.
Jonathan Mosen: I’ll press tab again.
Tom: Current view sub menu alt, V, Y1
Jonathan Mosen: And press enter.
Tom: Leaving Menus. Show us conversations. alt, V, Y1,
Jonathan Mosen: And I press tab.
Tom: Message preview sub menu, view settings dot, dot, dot.
Jonathan Mosen: We’ll go into view settings.
Tom: Leaving menus, leaving ribbons, dialogue, columns dot, dot, dot button. Alt plus C.
Jonathan Mosen: I’ll press Enter on the columns option.
Tom: Dialogue user defined fonts on each message. Show columns, maximum number of line.
Jonathan Mosen: I’ll press tab.
Tom: Select available columns from available columns. New column dot dot, add button, show columns. Okay button. Show columns. Show these columns in this order. Multi-select list box, not selected importance one of nine.
Jonathan Mosen: So there are the columns and you can reorder them. You can delete them, but as you can see, it’s buried. And it’s also not as intuitive an interface as what we had with the customize outlook message list view. So that’s JAWS 2022 overall a worthwhile upgrade, so far. Of course, if you are migrating to Windows 11, Windows 11 support will be improving all the time with JAWS 2022. So that’s an important consideration as well. And it just seems really responsive, which is a very good thing to see. As always, you can download a demo of JAWS from freedomscientific.com. If you are an SMA user, then this is an SMA upgrade. It is also available, of course, if you’re on the JAWS subscription plan.
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Jonathan Mosen: When Google announced the first Chromebook in 2011, many tech pundits just shrugged their shoulders. A computer that pretty much only ran Google Chrome seemed like a limited and not very attractive idea. But several things have happened in the 10 years that Chromebooks have been around, that have made Chromebook a big seller in the computer laptop market. The abundance of web 2.0 and so-called rich internet applications have seen the browser become more than a place that we go to visit static pages of text. The browser is now a place where we can run full applications. Where we can manage emails, spreadsheets, documents, presentations, and even create multimedia content. And certainly people watch a lot of multimedia content through their browser as well, with all of the major streaming service providers offering web based applications. Chromo S itself has matured, now supporting Android applications as well. With Android being the most popular mobile operating system in the world, having a laptop that can run all the familiar apps that you may already have from your Google play store account is a compelling proposition.
And then the pandemic hit. I became interested in Chromebooks because of my day job as the CEO of a national employment service for disabled people in New Zealand. Our government was aware of the digital divide that the lockdown glaringly highlighted and it scrambled to put computers in the hands of those who couldn’t afford them or who previously didn’t have training in the use of computers and didn’t feel confident doing it themselves. When you’re buying that many computers, the cheaper, the better. Chromebooks fit the bill. A report by Anulus, states that Chromebook shipments went up from 14.7 million units to 30.7 million units in 2020 alone. In Q4 2020, 3.5 million of these machines were shipped by HP, while 2.8 million were shipped by Lenovo. Laptop brands Dell and Acer, each shipped about 1.5 million units in 2020.
Chromebooks have overtaken Max as the most popular operating system behind Windows. In Q1 2020, Apple and Google were neck and neck. Windows grabbed 87.5% of the market Mac OS took 5.8% and Chromo S captured 5.3%, so very close. But in Q2 of 2020, Windows fell to 81.7%. Mac OS grew to 7.6% and Chromo S leaped ahead to 10%. Q3 and Q4 of 2020 confirmed the trend, Windows dropped further to 78.9% for Q3 and then 76.7% for Q4. Mac OS grew to 8.4% for Q3, and then fell back to 7.7% for Q4. While Chrome OS had 11.5% for Q3, and then a whopping 14.4% market share for Q4. The Q4 results are particularly notable because the fourth quarter tends to be the biggest for PC shipments. It’s a testimony to how far accessibility has come, that there are many of us who consider ourselves blind computer geeks, who’ve heard that Chrome OS is accessible and may have briefly enabled ChromeVox, the screen reader that’s built into every Chromebook, but hadn’t actually got up close and personal to really evaluate whether Chromebooks are a viable solution for blind people.
Because some of the customers we serve in my day job have the opportunity to be given Chromebooks, I bought myself a Chromebook, so I could take a look for myself. I’m going to take you on a tour of a Chromebook with ChromeVox running on it and by the end of it, hopefully you’ll be able to form your own opinion about whether you think you can imagine yourself or perhaps somebody you know who doesn’t have a computer at the moment using one. But I’ll say right from the outset, that I’m much more impressed than I expected to be, with the way that ChromeVox works on Chrome OS. If you have a Mac or a Windows computer now, and you’re proficient with the screen reader that you currently use, I think it’s unlikely that you’d want to ditch what you have for a Chromebook.
But people who haven’t used a computer before, who are willing to put the work in to get to know the operating system and the screen reader and appropriate applications could get things done and enjoy many of the things the web has to offer and the experience that you’ll have will be surprisingly speedy and pleasant. Not surprisingly Chromebooks work particularly well with Google’s own workspace offerings, including Gmail, Google calendar, Google docs, and Google sheets. But you can also use it with the online versions of Microsoft office and you can download the Android applications for office, if you prefer. Since Chromebooks generally store data in the cloud, they don’t need a lot of storage and they don’t require hefty processes or RAM, which also contributes to their affordability. Chromebooks are Linux based, software updates happen automatically, your data is backed up to the cloud and they’re not susceptible to viruses, but of course you still have to be aware of phishing attacks.
Boot times are impressive and battery life is amazing. You can do some work offline if you take the right steps to do so in advance, but they tend to be quite reliant on an internet connection. That can be problematic, for example, if you find yourself at a hotel with dodgy internet. Although as long as you can tether your smartphone to your Chromebook, you should be good to go. Admittedly, I have a very high end windows laptop, but I was able to buy a Chromebook for about 10% of what I paid for my very fast and slick Dell XPS 15. Bonnie and I went to a local department store that sells computers and there were several Chromebooks on display from companies like Acer, HP, Dell, and Lenovo.
And it really came down to the feel of the keyboard for me and whether I wanted to pay a little extra for a touchscreen model. In the end, I elected not to do that. I purchased an Acer C733 Chromebook. It has an Intel Celeron CPU with four gigabytes of RAM, 32 gigabytes of storage and an 11.6 inch screen. So it’s quite small and light. Incidentally, you can get a lot of information about your system by opening a tab in Chrome OS and typing Chrome:// system. Now times have changed and there was once a time when we would be happy to get a computer and perhaps for those of us who were less confident with these things, would expect an assistive technology expert or a trusted sighted friend to come and get things talking for us. Increasingly, we are expecting that these things should be able to talk out of the box.
So can a blind person get a Chromebook home from the store and get it talking themselves? The answer to that is absolutely yes. This is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in terms of getting something new that I’ve never really used before out of the box and getting it talking without any help required whatsoever. To show you what to expect when you get a Chromebook out of the box and you’ve taken it home, I’ve power washed my Chromebook. This is a really simple process where you sign out of your Google account and then you press control, alt, shift, R and you go through a process of power washing the computer, essentially resetting it to factory defaults and it behaves as if you’ve never used it before. So that’s the state that we are going to begin this review in, as if the computer had just come out of its box.
Now the one thing that I did get into trouble with when I got my computer out of the box, was that when I lift the lid of this Chromebook, it automatically powers up. I don’t know whether that is typical of all Chromebooks, but it’s not something I was expecting. So as somebody who doesn’t even see light from dark, I couldn’t tell whether the screen was on or anything like that. I lifted the lid and then I pressed the power button. So initially I was frustrated by the fact that nothing happened. The reason for that was that lifting the lid, powered it on. So when I pressed and held down the power button for a couple of seconds, I powered it off again.
I am now going to power the computer on, and I’ve done that now. And we’ll just give it a few seconds to boot up. I’m not sure whether we’ll hear any kind of sound when this thing boots up for the first time. There we go. We do in fact, hear that sound. And so that tells me that we are already to go. We need to enable ChromeVox at this point. And the magic keys to do that on any Chromebook are control, alt and Z. So I’ll press control, alt and Z together.
Chromevox: Welcome to ChromeVox. ChromeVox spoken feedback is ready. Welcome to the ChromeVox tutorial. To exit this tutorial at any time, press the escape key on the top left corner of the keyboard. To turn off ChromeVox, hold control and alt and press Z. When you’re ready, use the space bar to move to the next lesson.
Jonathan Mosen: Couldn’t be simpler. Just waiting for that sound that made it very clear that the Chromebook had booted. Then I pressed control, alt, Z and we were up and running. I’m going to press the space bar now. One thing that Google has always been very good at, is these tutorials and the Chromebook is no exception.
Chromevox: Essential keys control. Let’s start with a few keys that you’ll use regularly. The control key can be used to stop any current speech. Find the control key on the bottom left corner of your keyboard. To continue press the control key.
Jonathan Mosen: There is consistency about the way that keys are laid out on a Chromebook. And the control key, as the tutorial says, is the bottom left hand key of the keyboard. It’s quite a large key and it can be large because there’s only two keys on the left hand side of the space bar. There’s no equivalent to the windows key or the option key, say in the case of a Mac. So you’ve just got two big keys on the left of the space bar control and then alt. So I’ll tap control. As the tutorial instructs.
Chromevox: Lets start. Essential keys. Shift. Now find the left shift key, which is directly above the control key. To continue press the left shift key.
Jonathan Mosen: I’ll press that.
Chromevox: Essential keys search. Next. You learn about the search key. The search key is used in combination with other keys for ChromeVox commands. The search key is immediately above the left shift key. To continue press the search key.
Jonathan Mosen: The Tutorial isn’t going to tell you this, but the search key is where you would expect the caps lock to be on most keyboards, just above the shift key. And it acts like a modifier, say the JAWS key or the NVDA key. So I’ll tap that.
Chromevox: Basic navigation. Now you’ll learn some basic navigation. You can hold search and press the arrow keys to move around the screen. To continue, press search plus right arrow.
Jonathan Mosen: So we’re using it like a modifier, hold down the search key and press right arrow.
Chromevox: If you reach an item that you want to click, press search plus space, try it now to continue.
Jonathan Mosen: I’ll do that.
Chromevox: Tab navigation. You can also use the tab key to move to the next interactive item on the screen. Find the tab key, which is directly above the search key to continue press the tab key.
Jonathan Mosen: The tab key is exactly where you would expect it to be on a keyboard like this. I’ll press tab now.
Chromevox: Tab navigation continued. You can use shift plus tab to move to the previous interactive item. To continue, press shift plus tab.
Jonathan Mosen: I’ll do that.
Chromevox: Enter. You can also press enter to activate items. For example, enter can be used to submit text in a form. To continue, press enter.
Jonathan Mosen: I’ll press enter now
Chromevox: Drop down lists. Heading one, press search plus right arrow or search plus left arrow to navigate this lesson.
Jonathan Mosen: Okay. I’ll press search plus right arrow.
Chromevox: There will be times when you need to select an item from a dropdown list. To do so, first expand the list by pressing search plus space. Then use the up and down arrow keys to select an item. Finally collapse the list by pressing search plus space.
Jonathan Mosen: I’ll press search plus right arrow now.
Chromevox: Press search plus right arrow to find the practice area of the next lesson button, then press search plus space to activate.
Jonathan Mosen: So I’ll press search plus right arrow.
Chromevox: Practice area button.
Jonathan Mosen: And activate it.
Chromevox: Press search plus space to activate.
Jonathan Mosen: There’s the hint. So it does have hints rather like say the JAWS tutor voice or the voiceover hints option.
Chromevox: Dialogue. Practice area drop down lists. Try selecting your favorite season from the list. My favorite season close practice area. Try selecting your favorite season from the list.
Jonathan Mosen: I’ll press search with right arrow.
Chromevox: My favorite season, spring button, has popup with four items, collapsed. Press search plus space to activate.
Jonathan Mosen: There’s a lot of information there. So it tells us right there that there are four items in this list even before we invoke it. So I’ll do that.
Chromevox: My favorite season button has pop up with four items expanded. Press search, plus space to activate.
Jonathan Mosen: Now I can up and down arrow list.
Chromevox: Box with four items. Summer list item, two of four bottom list. Winter list item four of four.
Jonathan Mosen: And will it wrap? No. So if I want to go back up to spring.
Chromevox: Bottom summer. Spring list item one of four.
Jonathan Mosen: And it doesn’t wrap. So I’ll down arrow to winter.
Chromevox: Summer bottom. Winter list item four of four.
Jonathan Mosen: And press enter.
Chromevox: My favorite season, winter button has pop up with four items, collapsed. Press search plus space to activate.
Jonathan Mosen: I’ll press search with right arrow now.
Chromevox: Close practice area button.
Jonathan Mosen: And press the close button.
Chromevox: Press practice area button.
Jonathan Mosen: Search with right arrow.
Chromevox: Press next lesson button.
Jonathan Mosen: And go to the next lesson.
Chromevox: Quick orientation complete. Heading one, press search plus right arrow or search plus left arrow to navigate this lesson.
Jonathan Mosen: I’ll do that. I’ll go right.
Chromevox: Well done. You’ve learned the ChromeVox basics. You can go through the tutorial again or exit this tutorial by finding and clicking on a button below. After you set up your device, you can come back and view more tutorials by pressing search plus O then T. Previous lesson button, restart quick orientation button, all lessons button, main menu button, exit tutorial button, press search plus space to activate.
Jonathan Mosen: And I’ve done that. And now we are at…
Chromevox: Welcome heading one.
Jonathan Mosen: The set up screen so lets go through this.
Chromevox: Press search plus space to activate. Select language and keyboard button. Currently selected language is English, Australia button. Press search plus space to activate.
Jonathan Mosen: I think I’m going to set this to English US actually. So I will press search with space.
Chromevox: Choose your language and keyboard dialogue. Choose your language and keyboard language, select language keyboard, select keyboard. Okay. Select language. English Australia button has popup with 344 items collapsed. Press search plus space to activate.
Jonathan Mosen: A lot of language options there.
Chromevox: Select language button has popup with 344 expanded. Press search plus space to activate.
Jonathan Mosen: I’ve done that and now I should be able to down arrow.
Chromevox: List box with 344 items. Amharic Ethiopia [inaudible [00:50:46] list item.
Jonathan Mosen: We should be able to use first letter navigation. So I’ll press E.
Chromevox: English Aguila. English Antigua. English Austria. English Bahamas. English Barbados. English Belgium. English Belize. English Bermuda. English Botswana. English British. English British Virgin island. English Burundi. English Cameroon. [inaudible [00:51:06] English Gambia.
Jonathan Mosen: You can hear I’m down arrowing. It’s quite responsive.
Chromevox: English Isle of [inaudible [00:51:15] English Martial [inaudible [00:51:18] English Palau. English St. Helen. English Tanzania. English [inaudible [00:51:28]. List item. English United Kingdom. English United States POSIX list item. English United States. List item 163 of 300.
Jonathan Mosen: So there are two there?
Chromevox: English United States POSIX list item. English United States list item.
Jonathan Mosen: I think I’ll just choose that one.
Chromevox: English US. English-
Jonathan Mosen: Yep.
Chromevox: Select. Welcome to ChromeVox. ChromeVox spoken feedback is ready. Welcome to the ChromeVox tutorial. To exit this tutorial at any time.
Jonathan Mosen: Now it’s gone-
Chromevox: Press the escape key on the top left select language English United States.
Jonathan Mosen: So I just pressed the escape key, I think because I changed my language, it decided to give me the tutorial again. So I’ve pressed escape to quickly quit the tutorial and now we’ll continue the setup of the Chromebook.
Chromevox: Keyboard. Select keyboard US button.
Jonathan Mosen: That’s fine.
Chromevox: Press pop up with three items, collapsed. Press search plus space to activate.
Jonathan Mosen: I’ll go right with search and right arrow.
Chromevox: Okay button.
Jonathan Mosen: And that’s all we have.
Chromevox: Press search plus space to activate.
Jonathan Mosen: I’ll do that.
Chromevox: Welcome dialogue. Welcome select language and keyboard button. Currently selected languages, English United States POSIX accessibility. Let’s go. Select language and keyboard button. Currently Selected language-
Jonathan Mosen: I’ll go right.
Chromevox: Accessibility button.
Jonathan Mosen: And let’s have a look at accessibility, which is right here on the setup screen. So we’ll press the search key with the space bar to set this up.
Chromevox: Accessibility settings dialogue. Accessibility settings, you can customize this device to fit your needs. These accessibility features can be changed later in settings. Large mouse cursor, high contrast mode, screen magnifier, select to speak doc magnifier on screen keyboard. Okay.
Jonathan Mosen: I don’t think there’s anything I want to change here.
Chromevox: Large mouse cursor. High contrast mode. Screen magnifier. Select to speak. Doc magnifier. Onscreen keyboard. Okay. Button Chrome.
Jonathan Mosen: Yep.
Jonathan Mosen: And then it wraps around. So I am not going to change any of this. I would like to enable dictation a bit later.
Chromevox: On screen. Okay button. Welcome dialogue. Welcome.
Jonathan Mosen: We’ll continue to traverse this screen.
Chromevox: Let’s go button.
Jonathan Mosen: And now we have a let’s go button. So we’ve done those initial setup steps.
Chromevox: Connect to network dialogue. Connect to network to restore your data. Connect to the internet network, one of seven, man and wifi. Secured signal strength 98%. Connect network, two of seven.
Jonathan Mosen: Now we’ve got a list of networks and I want to connect to our five gigahertz network, which is called man and wifi 5G. So I think I should down arrow here.
Chromevox: Network two of seven man and wifi 5G, secured signal strength 98%.
Jonathan Mosen: Sounds good. Let’s press enter.
Chromevox: Password. Password, edit text.
Jonathan Mosen: And I’m going to type in the network.
Chromevox: Bullet bullet bullet bullet bullet bullet bullet bullet bullet, bullet, bullet, bullet, bullet, bullet,
Jonathan Mosen: And press enter.
Chromevox: Alert, connecting to man and wifi 5G. Chrome alert, connected to man and wifi 5G. Strong signal. Google terms of service dialogue. Google Chrome OS terms, contents.
Jonathan Mosen: And if you want to, you can read the Google terms of service, which I have already done because I’ve set up the Chromebook before. So I’m going to get past it. And the way I’m going to try is to navigate to a checkbox, which I’m sure there will be in a terms of service screen like this. This slightly leaps us ahead to some other commands, I will eventually show you, but you can navigate by various elements on the screen. And it’s very JAWS like. So if I want to navigate to a checkbox on the screen, I hold down the search key, which is the ChromeVox key, when ChromeVox is active and press the letter X.
Chromevox: Optional. Help improve Chrome OS features and performance by automatically sending diagnostic and usage data to Google. Learn more, tick box. Ticked. Exited document. Optional. Help improve-
Jonathan Mosen: Okay, that’s fine. I’m happy to leave that checked.
Chromevox: Back button. Accept and continue button.
Jonathan Mosen: And I’ll press that.
Chromevox: Checking for updates. Determining device configuration. Who’s using this Chromebook dialogue. Who’s using this Chromebook. You can always add more people after setup. Each person can personalize their account and keep data private. You set up this device for work or personal use of child set digital ground rules to help children play, explore, and do schoolwork at home next.
Jonathan Mosen: All right, let’s navigate the screen and set this up.
Chromevox: Chrome. Who’s using-, you can always- you set up this device for work or personal use radio button selected.
Jonathan Mosen: That’s selected, and that’s what I want.
Chromevox: A child. Set digital ground rules to help children play, explore, and do schoolwork at home radio button unselected, next button.
Jonathan Mosen: And let’s activate the next button. I’m going to press the search key and the space bar to do that.
Chromevox: Dialogue back next. Please wait, sign into your Chromebook. Sign in Google accounts. Region. Form. Email or phone. Edit text. Email Entry.
Jonathan Mosen: And now it is asking me for my Google ID, the email address that is associated with my Google ID. So I’m going to type that in now and not record what I’m typing in. So I’ve done that and I’ll press the tab key.
Chromevox: Forgot email button. More options button. Back button. Next button.
Jonathan Mosen: I was tabbing. So I’ll press enter on the next button.
Chromevox: Jonathan Mosen, enter your password. Password, edit a text. Region.
Jonathan Mosen: And I can now type my password into this field.
Chromevox: Bullet. Bullet. Bullet. Bullet. Bullet. Bullet. Bullet. Bullet Bullet.
Jonathan Mosen: And press enter.
Chromevox: Two step verification. This extra step shows that it’s really you trying to sign in. Enter code. Edit text, numeric only. Region form.
Jonathan Mosen: I may well do a feature on this for Mosen at Large, sometime in the future. But recently I have switched as many things as I can from SMS authentication, which is unreliable at times, and also has some security vulnerabilities, to an authenticator app on my iPhone. And I’ve chosen the Microsoft authenticator app. So I need now to look in the Microsoft authenticator app, every 30 seconds, it generates a new key and I will have to type that key into the Chromebook and that will authenticate me. So I’ll do all of that while the recording is paused. I’ve entered the code. I’ll press enter.
Chromevox: Please wait. Alert. Signing in.
Jonathan Mosen: And that seems to have worked because it’s signing in and playing a chirpy tune.
Chromevox: Welcome to ChromeVox. ChromeVox spoken feedback is ready. Welcome to the ChromeVox tutorial. To exit this tutorial at any time, press the escape key on the top left corner of the keyboard. To turn off ChromeVox, hold control and alt and press Z-
Jonathan Mosen: I’m going to press escape.
Chromevox: – you’re signed in dialogue. You’re signed in. Chrome sync. Your bookmarks, history, passwords and other settings will be synced to your Google accounts so that you can use them on all of your devices. Personalized Google services. Google may use your browsing history to personalize search. Ads and other Google services. You can change this at anytime at myaccount.google.com/activitycontrol/search. Review sync options following setup. Accept and continue. Accept and continue button.
Jonathan Mosen: As you can hear, this is just such a very smooth, slick accessible process. We’ve now seen the tutorial three times, but I guess that’s better than not seeing any tutorial at all. And you can be very much acquainted with how to navigate the basics, but there’s a lot more to show you once we get through this process.
Chromevox: Chrome. You’re signed in. Review sync options following setup. Tick box, not ticked. Google may use your-, personalized-, your bookmarks, history. Review sync options following setup, tick box, not ticked.
Jonathan Mosen: So I don’t think I need to worry about the sync options, we’ll go on.
Chromevox: Close button. Chromevox: Close, button. Chrome didn’t shut down correctly.
Jonathan Mosen: Oh!
Chromevox: Cancel, button. Restore default, button.
Jonathan Mosen: I think we’ll just hit, cancel here.
Jonathan Mosen: This is the first time we’ve ran it. So I’m not sure why it’s giving that message…
Chromevox: Have created.
Jonathan Mosen: And now, here we go…
Chromevox: The home of the fun guys with four decades of magic Mushroom memories, Mushroom FM, the home of the fun guys with four decades of magic Mushroom memories, Mushroom FM.
Jonathan Mosen: Here we are, Mushroom FM is my homepage and Chrome has loaded and we are set up and we are ready to use the Chromebook. When you power up the Chromebook from now on you’ll sign in with your Google account password, and then very quickly the Chrome browser will open and you’ll be taken to whatever the default experience that you’ve opted for in Chrome. This works the same way as the Google Chrome on your desktop or on any other device that you have, and in fact, if those other devices are signed into your Google account, then it’s all in sync. So any history will sync any tabs that you have from other devices will sync. If you’ve set certain pages to be your homepage and Chrome on other devices, then you will find that that is all automatically inherited, on the Chromebook. So it’s pretty cool if you are a Google Chrome user across all your devices and if you are not, but you do get into the Chrome OS ecosystem, then it is kind of a big incentive for you to use Google Chrome on all your other devices, including iOS, Windows, and Android, and of course, macOS as well. A lot of the commands are the same, so you can press Control+T to create a new tab. We can press various keys like control+L to go to the address bar, to open a location. We can also use voice search, so if I open a new tab by pressing control T.
Chromevox: Tab created.
Jonathan Mosen: And I’ll press the tab key, now.
Chromevox: Banner, Gmail, images, Google apps, Google account, Combo box, search by voice button.
Jonathan Mosen: There’s the search by voice Button.
Chromevox: Press search plus space to activate.
Jonathan Mosen: If I press that search plus space to activate, I can say something like…
Chromevox: Use your microphone, www.google.com wants to use your microphone close button, block button, allow button.
Jonathan Mosen: Well, we want to allow that, so would do that.
Chromevox: Plus spaced new tab, dialogue, close, didn’t get that. Try again, new tab.
Jonathan Mosen: That’s fine, we’ll try it again. Now that we’ve given permission, that’s a one off thing, of course, because this is essentially a new device now.
Chromevox: Customize new tab, banner images, Google, Combo box, search by voice.
Jonathan Mosen: Let’s try it again.
Chromevox: Dialogue close waiting, dialogue.
Jonathan Mosen: What’s the forecast for tomorrow?
Chromevox: [crosstalk [01:02:51] Press waiting, press search plus space to activate. What’s the forecast for tomorrow? Google search.
Jonathan Mosen: And, now we should be able to navigate.
Chromevox: Accessibility link search modes, search results, heading one main weather result, heading two
Jonathan Mosen: [crosstalk [01:03:12] And there’s the weather.
Chromevox: Cloudy image, 18 heading degree Celsius, disabled button.
Jonathan Mosen: So we’ve Got the weather forecast sometimes I have heard the Google assistant speak the answers back, and it may be that we just need to do a bit more configuring. We’ll certainly explore the settings in due course, but I want to talk a little bit about the way that ChromeVox works now. One of the features that will be very useful to you is sticky mode. And this is a lot like quick nav in iOS or scan mode in narrator. It means that you can navigate around without having to hold down the search key and press the left and right arrow keys to move around the screen. It also means that you can use the many shortcuts that are in ChromeVox without having to hold down the search key and I’ll tell you more about some of those commands in a moment, but to toggle sticky mode, you press the search key twice quite quickly.
Chromevox: Sticky mode enabled.
Jonathan Mosen: Sticky mode is now enabled, and that means that I can just press the right arrow key.
Chromevox: Degree Fahrenheit button precipitation, 10% humidity, 84%.
Jonathan Mosen: And it also means if I want to navigate by heading, I can press the letter, H.
Chromevox: Grenada village Wellington, heading three.
Jonathan Mosen: How Do we know about these shortcut keys? Well, there are various ways that you can discover what to do with Chrome OS and ChromeVox, and I want to show you some of those now. Like many screen readers, ChromeVox has a keyboard learn mode, and if you are used to the way that Android works, at least it works this way, historically, you have these sort of multi-layered gestures in Android, and indeed the Google ecosystem loves multi-layer everything. If you’ve ever used Google docs, then you will know for example, that there are often two strokes that you have to execute. So you might press, sort of Alt+N for next, and then another key to tell the app what the next thing is that you are dealing with, and so there are multi-layered commands in ChromeVox. I find them a bit hard to get used to, but to be fair, JAWS has gone this way too, with their JAWS key with the space bar and the multi-layered commands and there.
So I guess it’s just a consequence of having so many functions that you may not have sufficient keys anymore. So let’s have a look at this. The first thing I want to do is turn the keyboard learn mode on, and we’ll just press a few keys to see what they do, to do that. You press the search key with O think of that as the options key, and then you press the letter of the key whose option you want to activate. So in this case, because we want to toggle keyboard learn mode on, we press search with O for options and then K for keyboard learn. I’ll do that search with O, I don’t get any feedback, and then K.
Chromevox: ChromeVox learn mode, press a QWERTY key refreshable Braille key or touch gesture to learn its function, press control with W or escape, to exit.
Jonathan Mosen: Welcome, welcome! To ChromeVox learn mode and I’ve come in here because there is a row of function keys above the QWERTY row of the keyboard. And these do not perform traditional function keys. The concept of say, F1 for help or F4 for closing things with the Alt key that does not exist in Chrome OS. Remember this is not windows, this is a completely different operating system. These keys have dedicated functions. The left hand key is the escape key, and I’m not going to press that because that will exit the learn mode. I’ll press the first one after the escape key, what we might think of as F1.
Jonathan Mosen: And that performs the back function. I’ll press the next one.
Jonathan Mosen: And that’s forward quite handy because remember, a lot of this is browser based. So if you want to move forward and back through your browser history, these are very good keys to press F1 and F2 essentially. We’ll press what we would think of as F3.
Jonathan Mosen: And that is a refresh key, so that’s a bit different. Normally you would press F5 to refresh in windows, but it’s the F3 key on a Chromebook, go to what we would think of as F4
Chromevox: Toggle full screen.
Jonathan Mosen: That toggle’s full screen. I’ll press the F5
Chromevox: Window overview brightness down brightness up.
Jonathan Mosen: Now F8 is the mute key. So I won’t press that
Chromevox: Volume down volume up.
Jonathan Mosen: And then we have the power button at the end of that row, at least on this Chromebook. I’m not sure how consistent that layout is from device to the device, but I have a feeling it is fairly consistent from within here. You can also press say the H key,
Jonathan Mosen: And you’ll get no feedback other than that’s the letter H, even if you are in sticky mode, but if you hold down the search key and H you will get its function.
Chromevox: Search H next heading,
Jonathan Mosen: And we can also press.
Chromevox: X Next tick Box.
Jonathan Mosen: So this is all sounding very familiar. If you are a JAWS user, if we press B with a search key.
Chromevox: Search B next button.
Jonathan Mosen: and E.
Chromevox: Next editable text area.
Jonathan Mosen: F.
Chromevox: F next form field.
Jonathan Mosen: Yep, really familiar.
Chromevox: Bill, next link.
Jonathan Mosen: We can go through these. There are a few differences from JAWS, but they are very similar overall, just like in JAWS, you can press shift with any of these keys to go backwards, and what’s very nice is that if you press the control key in conjunction with any of these keys, you will get a list of the element in question for example, pressing ChromeVox control H, will give you a list of headings. So you can go in here and press these keys to your heart’s content and not worry about breaking anything in this learn mode. Even if you just tap one of the modifier keys, like if I tap control.
Chromevox: Control, stop speech.
Jonathan Mosen: And.
Chromevox: Search shift.
Jonathan Mosen: So they all tell us what they do, and I’m going to press the escape key, now.
Chromevox: What’s the forecast for tomorrow Google search.
Jonathan Mosen: And we’re Back in that tab. I can close this tab by pressing control W that’ll be a familiar command.
Chromevox: Mushroom FM.
Jonathan Mosen: And we’re back on the homepage, which is Mushroom FM. Another way that you can learn about what keys do, or sometimes there might be a function that you want to perform that you don’t do very often, and you just think, I know that ChromeVox can do this, but I’m just not remembering how, we can get to a menu system, which is very comprehensive for ChromeVox. We do it by pressing search key and the full stop, or the period key.
Chromevox: Stick, search the menus, search type to search the menus, use the up and down arrows to cycle through results. Use the left and right arrows to adjust the text card and to move between menus
Jonathan Mosen: For JAWS users, this is very similar to the JAWS key with space, and then J and then you can search for a JAWS command and it comes up. So this is a very similar function right here. Just type what you’re looking for, and hopefully ChromeVox will understand what you’re looking for and present it in a menu for you. But if not, we can navigate through a menu system and I’ll press right arrow to do that
Chromevox: Jump menu, go to beginning of table search plus alt plus shift plus left arrow, menu item, one of 67.
Jonathan Mosen: Wow!
Chromevox: Press up or down arrow to navigate, enter to activate, go to beginning of table search plus alt plus shift plus left arrow menu item one of 67. So
Jonathan Mosen: It is a little bit repetitive sometimes, but that’s a lot of choices just on this one menu item. We’ll quickly go down and have a look at some other ones…
Chromevox: Go to beginning of the current column search plus control plus alt plus shift, go to beginning of the current row search, go to end of table search plus, go to end of the current column search, go to end of the current row search, go to the next column search plus, go to the next row search plus, go to the previous column search plus control plus alt plus left arrow, go to the previous row search plus jump to details, search plus A, then jump to the bottom of the page search plus control plus right arrow jump to the top of the page search plus control plus left arrow.
Jonathan Mosen: Those are particularly useful commands, I find.
Chromevox: Next button search plus B, next character search plus shift plus right arrow next, combo box search plus C next editable text area search plus E, next form field search plus F, next graphic search plus G next group search plus control plus down arrow next heading search plus H next landmark search plus semicolon. Next level one, heading search plus one,
Jonathan Mosen: If you press enter on any of these commands, they do execute. So if you are on a busy webpage and you want to go somewhere and you just can’t remember how to do it, you can navigate this menu. When you find the choice you want, press enter and it will actually perform the Action.
Chromevox: Next level two, heading search plus two, next level three, next line search plus down arrow. Next link search plus L next list search plus J, next object search plus right arrow menu. Next similar item search plus I, next table search plus T.
Jonathan Mosen: So We’re going to go on and on with this because there are 67 items. I won’t go through them all, but it is a comprehensive series of jump commands that you can traverse here and find the ones you want. And obviously any screen reader when it’s new has a daunting series of commands and you’ve got to invest some time in coming up to speed. The point is that ChromeVox is really powerful. And if you are willing to put the work in, there is quite a bit, and this is only the first menu. If I write arrow, now we’ll get to the next one.
Chromevox: Speech menu announce current battery status search plus O, then B.
Jonathan Mosen: If I press enter, for example, we’ll find out how much juice I’ve got at the moment.
Chromevox: battery at 96%, 11 hours and 37 minutes until battery is empty. So
Jonathan Mosen: That’s nice battery life, isn’t? Suggesting that I’ve got about 11 hours to play with before I need to charge this again. This particular Chromebook has U S B a and U S B C slots. And if memory serves, it has an SD card as well. Let’s go back and explore that menu again. So I’m going to press the search key with full stop or period.
Chromevox: search the menu…
Jonathan Mosen: And then right arrow.
Jonathan Mosen: Right arrow again to speech,
Chromevox: Speech menu announce current battery status search plus O then B announce formatting for current items search plus A then F, announce phonetic pronunciation for word search plus A then C announce the title of the current page search plus A then W.
Jonathan Mosen: That’s a useful one to know how to quickly check what the webpage is titled.
Chromevox: Announce the URL behind a link search plus a then L
Jonathan Mosen: That is also very cool to just get the URL of a link,
Chromevox: Announce the URL of the current page search plus A then U, announces the complete description of the current position search plus K menu item, ChromeVox find and page search plus forwards slash menu item, cycle punctuation, echo search plus A then P menu item. Not…
Jonathan Mosen: So, Let’s try that
Chromevox: All punctuation.
Jonathan Mosen: So then I do search A and P.
Chromevox: No, punctuation.
Jonathan Mosen: Search A and P again.
Chromevox: Some punctuation.
Jonathan Mosen: And I presume we’re back to all, if we do search A and P again,
Chromevox: All punctuation…
Jonathan Mosen: So I’ll toggle back to some
Chromevox: Some punctuation
Jonathan Mosen: Now, let’s go back to the menu.
Chromevox: Sticky, Jumps, tabs, ChromeVox, tabs, speech, menu.
Jonathan Mosen: Just narrowing down a few times.
Chromevox: Cycle typing, echo search plus decreased pitch search plus shift plus close bracket, decrease rate of speech search plus shift plus open bracket, increase pitch search plus close bracket, increase rate of speech search plus open bracket reset, text to speech setting search plus control plus shift plus back slash
Jonathan Mosen: That is a very useful command. Sometimes if you try and apply a text to speech engine, that goes a bit wrong and I have actually had this problem. And luckily was able to remember that command and get me out of a bind where I lost all speech
Chromevox: Show context, menu search plus M, menu item 16 of 20.
Jonathan Mosen: That is also a really important command. It’s kind of like right clicking on things, bringing up a context menu, and you will find that command to be really useful. We’ll talk about that some more, a bit later…
Chromevox: Speak the current time in date search plus A then D, stop speech control, menu, toggle speech on our off search plus volume mute menu item 19 of 20.
Jonathan Mosen: That Could be useful if you have a Braille display
Chromevox: Turn sound feedback earcons On or Off, search plus A then E, menu item 20 of 20.
Jonathan Mosen: I actually find the earcons quite piercing. So I do like to have those off, but I’m leaving them on for the purposes of this demo to show you what they’re like. So those are the 20 items that are on this menu. If I write arrow.
Chromevox: Tabs, menu Mushroom FM, the home of the fun guys with four decades of magic Mushroom memories, Mushroom FM active, menu item one of one, press up or down arrow to navigate, enter to activate Mushroom FM the home of the fun guys with four decades of magic Mushroom memories, Mushroom FM active menu item one of one.
Jonathan Mosen: Now a I would normally tap the control key because that’s quite repetitive, which is slightly frustrating. But what we’ve got here is a list of the active tabs. When you are working with this in a Chrome window, this is great, because you could have a lot of tabs open and it’s a way to just bring them all up in a list and get to the page that you’re interested in. I’ll right arrow,
Chromevox: ChromeVox menu, open keyboard shortcuts, menu control plus alt plus slash, menu item.
Jonathan Mosen: We’re going to continue to traverse this menu, but we will revisit some of these options in a moment. So I’ll right arrow.
Chromevox: Actions, menu click on current item search plus space, menu item start or end selection search plus S, click on current item, search plus space.
Jonathan Mosen: And that’s all we have right now. So you can select text in here as well. We’ll right arrow, heading menu. Now we’ve got a list of headings that are on the page. So if I down arrow, for example,
Chromevox: Mushroom FM, the currently on air heading too, what’s happening on the Mushroom FM Twitter feed, recent blog posts heading too. And we’ve
Jonathan Mosen: Got all these headings here and then when I press enter, it will jump, focus to that heading on the page and you’ll be able to navigate by the way, while I remember to mention it, you can read continuously in ChromeVox by pressing the ChromeVox key, which in most cases is the search key and R and of course, if you have sticky mode enabled, then you can just press the letter R for read and it will read continuously, I’ll arrow.
Chromevox: Landmark menu.
Jonathan Mosen: And again, we’ve got a list of landmarks and a menu.
Chromevox: Link, menu.
Jonathan Mosen: And links.
Chromevox: Form controls, table menu, search the menus, and now we’ve
Jonathan Mosen: Wrapped around to the menu again. So one of the most important commands for a ChromeVox user to know is the search key with the full stop or period key, and also to get into that learn mode, search key with O plus K, and if you remember those two things and also perhaps the search key with O and T for the tutorial.
You have a lot in your toolbox there to get up to speed and familiar with how ChromeVox works. I’d like now to visit the ChromeVox options and see how configurable it is. To do that as the menu said, we press the ChromeVox key with O and then O on its own.
Chromevox: Tab created, ChromeVox panel, ChromeVox options.
Jonathan Mosen: Now I’m going to navigate with the right arrow key. I have got sticky mode on
Chromevox: Right now, ChromeVox options heading one enable verbose descriptions, tick box, ticked, press search plus face to toggle. I
Jonathan Mosen: Am going to leave the verbose descriptions on for the purposes is tutorial, but as you become more familiar with ChromeVox, you’ll probably want to disable that
Chromevox: Automatically read page after it finishes loading tick box, not ticked.
Jonathan Mosen: I personally prefer to do that. I like the page just reading automatically. So I’m going to press the space bar to check this box. Remember I have got sticky mode on
Chromevox: Automatically read page after it finishes loading tick box ticked.
Jonathan Mosen: If you don’t have sticky mode on, you will want to press the search key with the space bar to check the box. Now I’ll press right arrow.
Chromevox: Speak text under the mouse tick box, not ticked use pitch changes, change pitch when speaking element types quoted, deleted, bolded, parenthesized or capitalized text, tick box ticked.
Jonathan Mosen: That could be quite a nice feature, or it could be irritating, I’m going to uncheck that for now.
Chromevox: Change pitch once.
Jonathan Mosen: And go on.
Chromevox: When reading capitals say cap before letter button has pop up with two items collapsed
Jonathan Mosen: As as the case with many screen readers, you can have it say the word cap, or you can raise the pitch for an upper case letter,
Chromevox: Read numbers as words, button.
Jonathan Mosen: That’s fine.
Chromevox: Just pop up with two items, punctuation, echo, some button, announce download notifications, tick box ticked
Jonathan Mosen: Because this is all based around Google Chrome. You do have a good download manager here in Chrome OS, and this is where your built in storage comes in handy. You can download media to your device.
Chromevox: Turn off sticky mode when editing text smart sticky mode, tick box ticked when playing audio play at normal volume, even if ChromeVox is speaking. Button has pop up with three items, collapsed, press search plus space to activate.
Jonathan Mosen: I’m interested in what the options are. So I’m going to turn sticky mode off now by pressing the search key twice.
Chromevox: Sticky mode disabled.
Jonathan Mosen: Now let’s see if I can expand this list.
Chromevox: When playing audio play, play it normal volume, even in if ChromeVox is speaking. Button has pop up with three items collapsed. When playing audio play, play it normal volume, even in if ChromeVox is speaking. Button has pop up with three items collapsed.
Jonathan Mosen: It’s not letting me expand it. Actually that’s odd
Chromevox: When playing audio, button press pop up with three items Expanded.
Jonathan Mosen: There we go. Now let’s see if we can down Arrow.
Chromevox: List box with three items, play at lower volume. When ChromeVox is speaking. List item, pause playback, when ChromeVox is speaking. List item three of three.
Jonathan Mosen: That’s an interesting option there.
Chromevox: Pause playback one ChromeVox.
Jonathan Mosen: So (laugh) whenever ChromeVox speaks the audio pauses, and then when ChromeVox stops speaking the audio resumes again, I don’t know of another screen reader that does that. That would be an interesting one. Anyway, I’ll up arrow and accept what we had before. I think.
Chromevox: Play it normal volume. Even if ChromeVox is speaking, when playing audio.
Jonathan Mosen: I just pressed enter to accept that choice and now we’ll continue to navigate. I’ll leave sticky mode off for now. So I’m going to hold the search key down and press right arrow, as we continue to go through these ChromeVox options.
Chromevox: Voices heading two
Jonathan Mosen: These are grouped by heading. And when you know that it means that you can use the heading navigation keys to jump to different sections of this Screen.
Chromevox: Select current voice select current voice system. Text to speech. Voice button has pop up with 60 items, collapsed,
Jonathan Mosen: Whoa!(affirmation)
Chromevox: Press search, plus space to activate.
Jonathan Mosen: Let’s see if we can change the voice.
Chromevox: Select current voice button has pop up with 60 items expanded or down arrow list box with 60 items, Chrome OS Bahasa, Indonesia list item two, Chrome OS Deutsche one, Chrome OS Deutsche two.
Jonathan Mosen: Well, we’ll see if we can get down to some English ones.
Chromevox: Chrome OS France A four chromo, Chrome OS Deutsche three, Chrome, system text to speech, voice, Chrome OS Bahasa, Indonesia, Chrome OS Deutsche one.
Jonathan Mosen: I’m not sure where English is, but we’ll see if we can find it. I’ll pause the recording and just do some navigating.
Okay, I’ve done that. Now, they were just a few down the list,
Chromevox: Actually Chrome OS English one list item.
Jonathan Mosen: Now, if I remember rightly I’m quite fond of the US English five voice. So we’ll see if We find that.
Chromevox: Chrome OS English five.
Jonathan Mosen: And press enter.
Chromevox: Select current voice Chrome Os US English five, button has popup with 60 items,
Jonathan Mosen: We’ll right arrow…
Computer: Chrom…: Automatically switch ChromeVox voice based on language, tick box, not ticked, press search plus space to toggle.
Jonathan Mosen: Oh man, I am much, much happier with that voice personally, I really like that voice. So we will continue with it.
Computer: Chrom…: Open Text to speech setting search, plus O then S used to install, manage, and customize voices link, formatting, heading two.
Jonathan Mosen: Now we’re onto the next heading for formatting.
Computer: Chrom…: Announce text styling, tick box ticked Braille heading two, select an eight dot Braille table. Select an eight dot brail table English United States.
Jonathan Mosen: I Will come back to Braille later in the tutorial.
Computer: Chrom…: Switch to six dot Braille, button enable word wrap, tick box ticked, show Braille commands in the ChromeVox menus, tick box, not Ticked.
Jonathan Mosen: I’m going to enable that
Computer: Chrom…: Show Braille commands in the ChromeVox menus tick box, Ticked.
Jonathan Mosen: That’ll be handy for when we connect a Braille display later,
Chromevox: Bluetooth, Braille display heading two select a Bluetooth Braille display, select a Bluetooth Braille display button.
Jonathan Mosen: We will have a look at this, when I have a compatible Braille display to hand to show you.
Chromevox: Connect disabled, forget disabled virtual Braille display, heading two simulates the output of a refreshable Braille display in the ChromeVox panel. At the top of the screen.
Jonathan Mosen: This is a particularly compelling feature because Chromebooks are big in education, and you can understand why you can get some very rugged Chromebooks. So the kids can knock them about a bit in their backpacks and their school bags, and they’ll still function. They can see you well and truly through a school day, people can’t install all sorts of software that could cause them to get up to mischief or cause configuration issues with the devices. And they’re really cheap, so their ideal for the education system. And so the fact that Google has included this in the accessibility part is really a very good thing.
Chromevox: Lines, spin button, one, min one cells in each line cells in each line, spin button 40 min one current display style is side by side, change display style to interleave. Button enable developer options heading two enable developer options, collapsed button.
Jonathan Mosen: These options seem to reveal logging for a range of things like earcons and web activity and various things of that nature. So for most of us mortals, there won’t be anything useful in this menu. And those are the things that are available in this series of options for ChromeVox. We got there just a reminder by pressing the search key with O which is the options key. And then O once again for the options dialogue. So search key with O then O and as we conclude our look at ChromeVox so you know your way around it, and you can use the Chromebook effectively. Let’s take a look at one of the other tutorials available in the options. So we’ll press the search key with O and then T
Computer: Chrom…: ChromeVox tutorial, heading one press search plus right arrow or search.
Jonathan Mosen: I’m just going to tab around this screen.
Computer: Chrom…: Quick orientation link, essential keys, link navigation, link, command references, link sounds, and settings link, press search, plus space to activate.
Jonathan Mosen: Why don’t we do that? Because I think this one will be a useful one to do. As we wrap up our introduction to ChromeVox.
Computer: Chrom…: Sounds heading one, press search plus right arrow or search plus left arrow to navigate this lesson.
Jonathan Mosen: Well, we know a little bit about ChromeVox now. So actually I’m going to turn sticky mode on by pressing the search key twice.
Computer: Chrom…: Sticky mode enabled.
Jonathan Mosen: And now a press right arrow.
Computer: Chrom…: ChromeVox uses sounds to give you essential and additional information you can use. These sounds to navigate more quickly by learning what each sound means. Once you get more comfortable, you can turn off verbose descriptions in speech and rely on them for essential information about the page. Here’s a complete list of sounds and what they mean.
Jonathan Mosen: From now on whenever I press right arrow, or if you don’t have sticky mode on search with right arrow, it’s going to play a sound and tell you what that sound is all about. And it is true. If you get used to these sounds, then you can actually be quite efficient by turning the verbosity way down. So listen closely. Here we go.
Computer: Chrom…: A modal alert, a non modal alert, a button, an untick tick box, a tick tick box, an editable text field, an invalid key press, a link, a list box, or combo box, a page load in progress,
Jonathan Mosen: Quite soothing. Isn’t it? Sounds like a ticking clock.
Computer: Chrom…: A popup button, a slider.
Jonathan Mosen: Now that page load in progress is not stopping, and I’m not sure how to stop it. So that’s a bit of a bug in it. We can’t stop the page sound
Computer: Chrom…: Wrap from beginning to end or end to beginning inside a page dot main menu button, exit tutorial button, ChromeVox to exit tutorial button.
Jonathan Mosen: Hopefully, We’ll get rid of the sound.
Computer: Chrom…: Press search
Jonathan Mosen: Sound behind us, when we press exit.
Computer: Chrom…: Sticky mode, disabled ChromeVox Mushroom blog.
Jonathan Mosen: It’s finally gone, there we go.(Laughs) Well, it does help you to learn what those sounds mean, and if you become familiar with them, then clearly that is actually a lot more efficient than hearing tick box ticked or whatever ChromeVox chooses to describe the controls as so efficiency nuts, rejoice. That is quite a cool feature. And that’s where we’re going to wrap this first installment of the Chromebook tutorial and review. And in the next installment, we’ll have a look at some more accessibility features and then go on to having a look at some real world use.
Well, it seems like many moons, many moons ago that we had a Bonnie bulletin. So we’re well overdue back in the studio, standing up this time is the incredible Bonnie Mosen.
Bonnie Mosen Hi guys,
Jonathan Mosen: how are you?
Bonnie Mosen: I’m good. How-
Jonathan Mosen: You must have squillions of items of news.
Bonnie Mosen: Oh, not really. I mean, I lead a-
Jonathan Mosen: Oh. Well, thanks for the Bonnie Bulletin.
Bonnie Mosen: I lead a pretty boring life. I get up, I go to work, I come home, I do my show, I read. That’s about it. I guess the biggest news is that Eclipse had surgery this week. That’s who the-
Jonathan Mosen: For those who don’t know, Eclipse is Bonnie’s seeing eye dog.
Bonnie Mosen: Yeah. They did a needle biopsy and it came back with what’s called mast cell tumors, mast cells. And what they are is it is a form of cancer. There are three grades, low, medium, and high. It is caused by the histamines in the body, the release of histamines in the body. So they decided to do surgery. Now, where the lump is, you want to get clean margins, as you naturally do with removing any kind of tumor, but it’s difficult because when you think about your ankles, unless you’re an elephant there’s not a lot of meat on your ankle. So she’s home, doing very well, seems almost back to her normal self.
Jonathan Mosen: And the other big news going on here in New Zealand at the moment is that the government has announced the most significant disability transformation ever, and that was revealed on Friday. So the idea is that there will be a Ministry for Disabled People up and running by July the 1st next year. A managed fund system called Enabling Good Lives, which has been piloted in various regions of the country, will be rolled out nationally. And so that’s quite significant change. And I think the challenge now is to make sure that disabled people are running this new ministry.
Bonnie Mosen: Yeah, absolutely. We’re very fortunate as blind people and visually impaired people that we don’t… We have needs, obviously. We need the technology. We need, with employment, the accessibility of building spaces, with Braille and large print and digital accessibility. But on many levels, we are so fortunate. And listening to and reading about some of the people that this will certainly hopefully be a very positive change for, when you look at a lot of people who want to live life, who want to live their life as independent as possible but they have a lot of physical or neurological challenges that make it difficult for them to do things independently and have to have a support worker, what we call a personal care attendant in the States, and just from working in the sector, there’s so much that goes on with how many hours a support person can have, not getting really good support agencies, not paying them, that sort of thing. So really hoping that it’s going to be a very positive thing, particularly for people who are very physically challenged.
Jonathan Mosen: And I think the last time we had a serious look at this in New Zealand was in the 1990s. I was involved in government relations at that time, and there was a decision taken that most disability support services would come under the auspices of the Ministry of Health. And the trouble with that is that it really enforces the medical model that disability is a medical issue. And there’s so much more to it. There are so many social aspects that haven’t been considered of, how do you create a less disabling society? So this is a really positive thing. And it’s now going to be a case of obviously finding disabled people who can be at the forefront of this change, but also capacity building, because we really have to do a better job of equipping more disabled people to take these leadership roles and determine our own destinies.
Bonnie Mosen: Yeah. At some point in our lives, you’re going to be disabled. That’s just the way it is.
Jonathan Mosen: Yeah. They say that we are all temporarily able bodied.
Bonnie Mosen: Exactly. I mean, it could be a broken ankle that you’ve broken just playing sports and you need to be able to access a building, or as you age, or anything. And I think it will be not just for helping disabled people but also for the whole good of society, because I’ve commented ever since I’ve come to New Zealand about how a lot of the buildings are just impossible. Where I go to the medical center, to go upstairs to physical therapy or to get your blood drawn, these stairs, they are so steep and narrow. And there’s this elevator but it looks like something out of the middle ages. It’s a cage and I’m not getting in that cage.
So, yeah, yes, Eclipse is agreeing with us. And the buses, because we have so many hills in Wellington and the streets are narrow that even though they claim to have buses that are disability friendly, that can kneel down, a lot of times they don’t, and you have these monster steps that you have to get up on. So you’re thinking about not just disabled people but seniors, moms with prams getting their kids on. So it’ll benefit everybody.
Jonathan Mosen: The other thing that you really notice when either you are in New Zealand, or going to the United States, or going in the other direction is the stark contrast in terms of the availability of Braille.
Bonnie Mosen: Yes.
Jonathan Mosen: Braille is virtually non-existent in public spaces here. Maybe there are some on elevators and a few places like that, but you don’t get a lot of Braille here.
Bonnie Mosen: No. I will never forget, I think the first time that really came home to me, I had gone for my first job interview here, actually, and it was in a 40 story building, which is either the tallest in Wellington, it’s the Majestic Centre, and this is 40 plus stories. So I get in the elevator and it starts moving. And I’m looking around, there’s no Braille, there’s nothing. I’m like, “Oh boy, this is going to be fun.”
So I took a little ride and this very lovely Japanese diplomat got on, because the Japanese embassy is in the building. And I said, “Excuse me, sir, can you help me get to the first floor?” He looks and he goes, “No Braille?” I’m like, “No.” And then we stayed in that hotel one time, which, actually, a blindness conference was in that hotel. And usually, because I’ve seen before no print, I can feel the print on the door and know what door I’m in. This had nothing. It was flat. And I had to put a bracelet on the door handle, a cheap bracelet on the door handle so we could find our way back to our hotel room. And then someone took it.
Jonathan Mosen: Yes. Somebody probably from housekeeping or something just takes it away because they think it’s hanging there erroneously. It is really frustrating. And yet most hotels in the US now have Braille available on the doors so you know where you are.
Bonnie Mosen: Yeah. We have Aira now.
Jonathan Mosen: Yeah, yeah. Well, thank you, Aira. Yeah. We do have a lot of catching up to do, but I think the announcement of the Ministry for Disabled People is really significant. And now, as I say, the challenge will be to make sure that whoever is leading that ministry to begin with, the new chief executive, sets the correct parameters and the vision for the future, because getting that right the first time is going to be so critical in terms of the values of that organization.
Bonnie Mosen: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And I want that to be a qualified person. I don’t know who the players are in the disability rights movement here. I really don’t. That’s just not my space that I’m in. But picking someone that’s not just going to be a… What’s the word I want?
Jonathan Mosen: Bureaucrat.
Bonnie Mosen: Bureaucrat, someone that really knows what they’re doing, not just a disabled person for the sake of just saying, “Okay, this person’s disabled. They’ll run it,” when they have no experience. Because like you said, if they mess it up because they’re out of their depth, then that’s not going to be good. And having disabled people on committees or advising them as well from the different sectors, because not all disabilities are equal and not all our needs, like I was talking earlier, are equal. So really focusing on, what do you need? What does your community need? And dealing that, because still as a blind person, I still have people think I need a handicapped restroom, the disabled restroom.
Jonathan Mosen: Or you go to a hotel and somebody decides that you need the special rooms, the disability friendly rooms, which are really designed for people with physical impairments.
Bonnie Mosen: Yeah, with wheelchairs. Yeah.
Jonathan Mosen: Yeah, yeah.
Bonnie Mosen: Yeah. Or that you probably need one of those… What is it? And this is actually how the hotel, the text, the-
Jonathan Mosen: Oh, the TTY devices? Yeah.
Bonnie Mosen: The TTY. Yeah. I’m like, “No, I don’t need the TT. That’s for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.”
Jonathan Mosen: But what that illustrates is that there has to be a lot of work done on making New Zealand, and we’re not unique in this regard, a more disability confident society, and that’s one of the real challenges too. So really interesting times ahead. I think it’s a great move.
Bonnie Mosen: It is a great move. I tend to be more cynical and jaded as I get older. So it’s like, it looks good on paper but let’s see if it can run out of the gate.
Jonathan Mosen: Well, sure. The devil’s in the detail with any implementation like this, but it’s exciting. Peter, Bonnie doesn’t want to answer your email.
Bonnie Mosen: No, you can ask it. I mean, I don’t think I can answer his email is more like it.
Jonathan Mosen: “Hi, Jonathan. If I remember well, Bonnie comes from one of the Southern States of the United States where folks love to have a gun. In America, as far as I know, it is historically a basic constitutional right to have the means to defend yourself against evil people and the government itself using a deadly weapon if needed. My question is, is it possible for a blind man,” and presumably woman, “to buy and own a gun? Can I, as a completely blind person, walk into a weapon store and say, ‘A shotgun, please. The bigger, the better’? If so, is it popular in the blind community of the Southern States to have a gun? Are blind citizens allowed to hold a gun when walking in the street or traveling with public transport? In Hungary, only professionals like police officers, prosecutors and hunters are entitled to own a gun. For everyday people, it’s nearly impossible.”
Bonnie Mosen: First, it’s not just a Southern state thing. A lot of it is out west and all over the country, so it’s not just… I think the media portrays it as being a Southern thing, but it’s not. If you look at the news right now, there’s so much gun violence going on in New York City at the moment, and Washington, and areas like that. So it is all over the country. The Second Amendment was passed a long time ago when the US was still a very wilderness area. So you did have to protect yourself against wild animals and thieves. And they were muskets. They were not the kind of rifles we have today. They weren’t pistols or shotguns. They were muskets. So it’s never really been revisited.
As far as me owning a gun, no, I’ve never owned a gun. I don’t like guns. Guns kill. I don’t like them. They scare me. I have been taught how to fire a gun. My father wanted to make sure that my mother and I knew how to fire a gun. Now, whether I could, I don’t think so. I don’t remember. And I have fired guns in ROTC, in college. I went and we did a firing of M16s, which was kind of interesting. But I would not own one. I would not buy one at all. I might buy an empty one, like a one that looked real, and if someone got in the house…
But as far as blind people owning guns, I don’t think I know of any blind people that own a gun. But there was a book, I think it’s several years ago, called Guns and Guide Dogs or something. And it was about a guy out in Iowa or somewhere that got a gun license. So I guess a lot of it depends on the state and that sort of thing. So I don’t know. That would probably be a question for more of the listener base who may have more info on that than-
Jonathan Mosen: I know of one blind person that has a gun license. And I recently read, because I scan many news sources for blindness related stories every day, partly because of this show, and I recently heard about a blind person in one state, I apologize, I forget which state it was because this topic doesn’t interest me much, he applied repeatedly for a firearms license and was denied it because of his blindness.
Bonnie Mosen: Oh, okay.
Jonathan Mosen: And he now has one. And there was this big article about how happy he was that not only has he got the license but he’s also got a concealed weapons permit.
Bonnie Mosen: Charming.
Jonathan Mosen: Yeah. So I mean, look, I have lived in the States, worked with American organizations for a long time, and I just have come to terms with the fact that this thing is completely incomprehensible to most people outside the United States. It just does not compute. I will never get it so I just give up. Well, thank you for another interesting Bonnie Bulletin.
Bonnie Mosen: Okay.
Jonathan Mosen: We’ll have you back again sometime.
Bonnie Mosen: Okay. Bye.
Jonathan Mosen: Goodbye.
Thomas Upton: Hello, Jonathan. It’s Thomas Upton. Today, at the time of this recording, Monday, October 25th, 2021, it is the 20th anniversary of the retail release of Microsoft Windows XP. I can remember using that operating system when I was a child. I remember that my family, most notably my parents and my brother, we had a couple of Windows XP computers around the house. We had a desktop and then we had a laptop. And I remember using all kinds of programs on Windows XP. Like, for example, it was the computer operating system that introduced me to both JAWS for Windows and Talking Typer from APH. I remember also using Windows XP on a couple of the computers at school, most notably on a laptop computer that my then vision teacher owned. And I learned how to use those programs like JAWS and Talking Typer, for example.
And so this leads me to this one question. What are your memories of Windows XP? Because I know that there are a lot of good times since we were children or no matter how old we are when we were still alive when Windows XP first came out in 2001. And even still, even after many years after Windows XP’s end of support in 2014, the operating system’s legacy will still live on.
Jonathan Mosen: Thanks for your contribution, Thomas. If I look back, I don’t really have very strong or fond memories of Windows XP. It was just another evolutionary step on the computing continuum. I remember, for example, that Windows Millennium was a bit of a flop. You know what I mean? Windows Millennium had a pretty hard time. And Microsoft had a history of this. Windows XP, it was just solid and dependable and we got on and we used it. The paradigm that was introduced with Windows 95, it had a chance to bed in well and truly by then because we’d had Windows 98 and then that dodgy Windows Millennium. By the time Windows XP came along, it was pretty solid, as I recall. And that’s the only thing I really think about when I look back at Windows XP was the solidity of it. And you contrast that with Windows Vista, which was just appalling.
So Microsoft does have this cycle of hit and miss. Windows 7 lasted a while and was generally well-received. Windows 8 was a debacle. And I have the feeling that after a very successful Windows 10, we’re going to see, as somebody suggested a couple of weeks ago on this show, actually, that Windows 11 will be one of those off releases and all the wrinkles will be ironed out in time for some future Windows 12. But if you have some particularly fond memories of Windows XP, by all means, get in touch and share them.
Rebecca Skipper says, “I still have an old Dell laptop that I refuse to get rid of because it was my first laptop given to me by my parents.” Bonnie would like a word with you, Rebecca. She doesn’t like people who hoard technology, I can tell you. “It has,” she says, “a lot of sentimental value. I’ve always loved the XP startup sound.” See, see, if I had listened to Bonnie and got rid of my Windows XP computer that I haven’t booted up for the last 12 years, I would not have been able to play that startup sound to you now. So there.
Oh. “And Outlook Express,” says Rebecca, she loved that too. “Narrator was terrible back then, but I loved Office 2003. I’d never use XP in an online environment, but I’d love to use it as a media device or a gaming device. Having a machine dedicated to entertainment without interruption might be a good thing. JAWS 2022 works great on Windows 11 and I was able to update my Surface laptop go to Windows 11, after installing JAWS 2022. One of the features I’m excited about is support for Microsoft’s Math Equation Editor and the Braille Editor, which allows you to use Nemeth Code in Microsoft Word. I wish this was available when I was in high school. These features are game changers in my view. I finally updated all my Apple devices. Siri doesn’t work better for me in iOS 15.1.”
Not confirmed here, Rebecca, definitely not confirmed here. The email reading functionality is back in Siri, so they have restored a few of the functions that were taken away as part of the migration to online features. So for me, there are some significant enhancements in 15.1 relating to Siri. And going all over the operating system map, Rebecca says, “I look forward to working more with Monterey’s features.” That’s the new operating system for the Mac that has also been released this week. “I hope,” she says, “you will take another look at the Mac one day.” Oh, Rebecca, your wishes have come true because Bonnie and I, as I think I’ve said on Mosen At Large, bought an M1 Mac over Christmas last year, and it’s very fast and it’s very snappy and there’s lots of good battery life.
Rebecca, continuing to go all over the operating system map, says, “If someone wanted to use Voxmate but didn’t want to spend $900 on an Android device, is it possible to buy a good Android phone for the price of an entry level iPhone SE?” Oh, Rebecca, it’s possible to buy a good Android phone for much less than the price of an iPhone SE. You can get an Android device capable of running Voxmate for a very, very low price. And this is one of the attractions of Android is the range of price points. Voxmate is not particularly processor intensive or anything like that, so you can get a very basic Android phone and rock Voxmate on that thing.
We had a really interesting listener inquiry last week about games that blind parents can play with sighted kids. And Christopher is writing in on this and says, “I talked about the QuentinC Playroom before, and it’s still a great option.” For those who’d like to check out the website, it is at qcsalon, that’s Q-C-S-A-L-O-N, .net. He says, “It prints all information to the screen. So as long as you can read, it should be playable for everyone. Best of all, it’s free and runs on all the major platforms thanks to the web client which supports keyboard shortcuts. There’s also the Windows program, which has just been updated to Version 3.0. Unlike the web client, there aren’t quite as many things that can be clicked on with the mouse, but many of the keyboard commands are very easy to remember, and you can always press F1 in any game to get the list of keys.
“I’ve been using this awesome service for over 10 years. And it works well for my sighted dad and sister who mainly want to play Monopoly or UNO. Other possibilities might include a Braille, with an uppercase B, deck of UNO and/or regular playing cards with print so everyone can play many types of card games. Or the Bop It toys. I haven’t used these in a long time so I don’t know if the newer ones are fully accessible, but they’re great. As long as they talk or otherwise provide auditory feedback and have tactile controls, everyone can play. They’re great for improving memory and reflex skills as well. If you can find accessible board games, those would work, though I’d hate playing Braille Monopoly on a board after spending so much time on a computer where all the tedium of moving and managing pieces is handled by the software.
“I’m not sure what else to recommend. This is another one of those times when society shuns us. Please correct me if I’m wrong concerning the following point. With the exception of The Last of Us II, Code 7 and Skullgirls, all other mainstream video games are either not playable at all or somewhat playable with lots of weird workarounds, which isn’t good enough as far as I’m concerned. I want to sit down and play a game knowing I can fully control and enjoy the experience. I don’t consider using OCR, memorizing menus, or the plethora of other tricks to be acceptable solutions, particularly when you end up with a partial experience that isn’t as good as the average sighted person would get. On the flip side, sighted people don’t want to play audio only games, even though there’s no reason they couldn’t. They avoid them purely because there are no visual elements. This is also why I don’t feel completely comfortable around people who are visually impaired. The experience between blind and visually impaired is very different and I find I don’t have much in common.”
Thanks, Christopher. Mainstream gaming is something I know nothing about. So I’d certainly welcome anyone’s input on mainstream games that do work well for blind and sighted people to play together. Really good suggestions about card games. We’ve got quite a few unique card games like UNO and Crazy Eights. We also have a deck of playing cards, and they’ve all got Braille and print on them, and it’s fun to play. We’ve done a lot of that. The Bop It games also, absolutely fantastic. We’ve got quite the collection of Bop It games.
There is one Bop It game that we got that wasn’t fully accessible and I think it was called Bop It Download. It was quite cool because you could download different voices. I think you might have even been able to make your own voices for this one. But if you played long enough, you got into a mode where the command that was being said was different from the control that was flashing. So it was quite an advanced thing. You had to play a long time to get to this point, but then you got stuck. For example, it would say, “Bop it,” and every so often, instead of flashing the bop it thing, it would flash the flick it thing. And you had to do what was being flashed, not what was being said. And that, of course, includes a blind person out. But the Bop It games are so much fun. And even now occasionally we’ll take one out and do pass it and pass the Bop It game around. They are such cool fun.
And I’m grateful to you, Christopher, because you’ve given me another chance to have a wee rant as the self-proclaimed, but justly in my view, self-proclaimed but justly proclaimed world blind Monopoly champion, it is such a shame that so few accessible versions of the game of Monopoly do not follow the rules, or at least accessible versions that are available now. Back in the DOS days, I used to play a wonderful version of Monopoly written by a guy called Don Phillip Gibson. You couldn’t go into screen reader review mode, but it was accessible if you just listened to what was being said. And that followed the rules properly. Hurray.
There were a few DOS versions of Monopoly, actually, that did follow the rules correctly. And then on Windows we had Jim Kitchen’s game. You can now get that again and play the Jim Kitchen version of Monopoly. That also has the Monopoly rules implemented correctly, but there is some customization and you can even customize the boards. You can play with multiple people, but it’s not an online game. So if you want to play with someone who’s not in the same physical vicinity as you, you could get online with Zoom, or Teams, or something like that and play the game. But it’s not multiplayer online, which is a shame.
The online versions of Monopoly that are out there at the moment that are accessible that I’m aware of, and I’m only aware of two that are current, the RS Games and the Quentin’s Playroom, both do not follow the rules, and it bugs me. I’m a bit of a Monopoly purist. So if people want to play Monopoly with me online and take on the world blind Monopoly champion, and I mean, I don’t know why they would want to do that and humiliate themselves in this way, but they do, but I’m not going to play a version that doesn’t follow the rules.
The biggest and most egregious offense on both of these games is, let’s say, for example, that I have hotels on St. James Place, New York Avenue and Tennessee Avenue. And, yes, I always play the original American version of the board. It’s highly likely that I will have hotels on there. And you land on it, which is also highly likely. And you can’t pay, which is also extremely likely. What is supposed to happen is at that point, you have to mortgage and pay your debt before the game can continue. And if you can’t do that, then you have to declare bankruptcy and you are goneburger. You are out of the game.
Now, both the QuentinC version of Monopoly and the RS Games has, in my view, it’s a bug. And I don’t think it’s a programming bug, it’s a misunderstanding of the rules of Monopoly, where if you can’t pay, the game continues until it’s your turn again. So your turn ends, the game goes on. Then when you come to your next turn, they make you pay at that point. But that completely skews the game in a different direction. It can actually materially affect the result of the game. And that’s why I don’t play on either of those platforms, because that rule is not being properly followed.
I don’t know why this is so hard to understand in the blind community, because every version of Monopoly that we have that I play with the kids on the iPad or something like that has it right. For example, the official Hasbro version has it right. So sometimes the kids come over and we connect the iPad to the Apple TV and we do it on AirPlay and we play Monopoly that way. So if there’s a mortgage situation there, it’s handled correctly. As I say, the Kitchens Inc. game handles it correctly, most other games, but for whatever reason these two that are accessible to us and support online play both get it wrong.
Now, what’s interesting is I even contacted RS Games a long, long time ago and said, “If you have to rewrite it, I will fund it. I will pay to get you to fix this.” And no one has. So if there is another accessible online version of Monopoly that correctly implements the rules, I would be delighted, delighted, I tell you, to know about it. In the meantime, when I’m playing with friends around the world, I will continue to just do what I’ve done for years and use the Jim Kitchen game, which does do it correctly, and play via some sort of audio conferencing platform.
I’d love to hear from you. So if you have any comments you want to contribute to the show, drop me an email written down or with an audio attachment to Jonathan, J-O-N-A-T-H-A-N, @mushroomfm.com. If you’d rather call in, use the listener line number in the United States, 864-606-6736.