Free Computer AT Already in Macintosh Computers

The Macintosh OS X operating system built-in accessibility features to make the monitor, keyboard, or mouse easier to use for many people. This article provides information on these features, including how to turn them on and use them. Some of these features are also available in earlier Macintosh systems; please contact us if you would like more information. Another good resource on Macintosh accessibility is the AT Mac blog.

Mouse Assistance/Alternatives

MouseKeys

MouseKeys allows the keypad (the rectangle of number keys on the far right of most desktop keyboards) to be used to carry out all mouse commands. Separate keypads can also be purchased and added to laptops, or used by people who prefer to place the keypad on their left. Having MouseKeys active does not interfere with standard mouse use.

To access MouseKeys settings:

  • Open the System Preferences window
  • Open the Universal Access control panel
  • Click on the "Mouse & Trackpad" tab

MouseKeys commands:

Movement keys:
 7: Moves cursor northwest
 8: Moves cursor due north
 9: Moves cursor northeast
 4: Moves cursor due west
 6: Moves cursor due east
 1: Moves cursor southwest
 2: Moves cursor due south
 3: Moves cursor southeast

Button Keys:
 5: Emulates mouse button
 0: Emulates drag function. (Position cursor over desired icon, then click “0.” Use movement keys to drag icon. Use the Period key to turn drag function off.)

Speech Recognition

OSX includes a simple speech recognition utility that allows users to speak mouse commands. It does not support dictation.

To turn on speech recognition:

  • Open the System Preferences window
  • Open the Speech control panel

Keyboard Shortcuts

Many mouse functions can be carried out more efficiently through use of keyboard shortcuts. Common shortcuts include the following:
 

Shortcut

Function

Command-C

Copies highlighted text

Command-X

Cuts highlighted text

Command-V

Pastes highlighted text

Control-F2

Moves focus to menu bar

F11

Hide/show all open windows

Control-V

Move down one page

Command-;

Run spell check on current document
Command-Z

Undo most recent action

Comprehensive shortcut lists are available:

Apple--Mac OSX Keyboard Shortcuts


Dan Rodney's List of Shortcuts

 

Keyboard Assistance/Alternatives

Sticky Keys/Slow Keys

StickyKeys eliminates the need to hold down more than one key at a time. When it is turned on, multi-key combinations involving the Shift, Control, or Alt keys can be executed by pressing the keys in sequence (e.g., Control-Alt-Delete can be accomplished by pressing and releasing Control, pressing and releasing Alt, and pressing and releasing Delete). This is particularly beneficial for anyone who types using fewer than 10 fingers.

Slow Keys slows down key repeats. This is helpful for people with hand tremors, cerebral palsy, etc.

These two useful options can be accessed as follows:

  • Open the System Preferences window
  • Open the Universal Access control panel
  • Click on the Keyboard tab

Dvorak Keyboard

Dvorak keyboards use more efficient key layouts for typing; for example, all versions put the T, H, and E keys on the home row. Most versions of OS X permit the two-handed Dvorak layout to be substituted for the standard QWERTY layout; some also support modified Dvorak layouts designed for typists who have use of only their right or left hand. Inexpensive key labels can be purchased and placed on any standard keyboard to indicate the Dvorak layout.

To turn on a Dvorak keyboard:

  • Open the System Preferences window
  • Open the International or Language & Text control panel (depending on your version of OS X)
  • Click on the Input Menu or Input Sources tab (depending on your version of OS X)
  • Scroll down until you see the Dvorak options and choose the one you want.

Onscreen Keyboard

An onscreen keyboard is a software program that represents the standard keyboard, but can be accessed using the mouse. Note that the keyboard built into Macintosh systems does not support use of Sticky Keys, so it will not be ideal for people who cannot use the standard keyboard at all.

To turn on the onscreen keyboard:

  • Open the System Preferences window
  • Open the International or Language & Text control panel (depending on your version of OS X)
  • Click on the Input Menu or Input Sources tab (depending on your version of OS X)
  • Click on the checkbox next to "Keyboard Viewer"
  • Close the control panel
  • Go to the American flag icon (near the upper right corner) and open the menu
  • Make sure "Show Keyboard Viewer" is checked. This will bring up the keyboard.

Monitor Assistance/Alternatives

Cursor Size

Some individuals with low vision may be able to successfully read text, but may have difficulty tracking the cursor. OS X has a setting that allows cursor size to be adjusted.

  • Open the System Preferences window
  • Open the Universal Access control panel
  • Click on the Mouse & Trackpad tab. The Cursor Size setting is near the bottom of the window.

Zoom

The Zoom feature magnifies text up to 20 times and has several configuration options. However, the magnification quality is quite poor, especially over 4x magnification.

To access Zoom:

  • Open the System Preferences window
  • Open the Universal Access control panel
  • Click on the Seeing tab.

Display Options

The Display Options feature allows users to view most text as white-on-black, or in grayscale. This can be accommodating not only for individuals with low vision, but also for those with learning disabilities.

To access Display Options:

  •     Open the System Preferences window
  •     Open the Universal Access control panel
  •     Click on the Seeing tab.

VoiceOver

VoiceOver is a full-featured screen reader designed for blind users. It is also built into the Apple iPhone and iPad.

To turn on VoiceOver on or off, press Cloverleaf-F5. To access Voice Over options:

  •     Open the System Preferences window
  •     Open the Universal Access control panel
  •     Click on the Seeing tab.

Using Built-In Computer AT in Public Computer Labs

Although built-in options can provide benefits to many users in public computer labs, there can be barriers to their implementation. Security software may be set to prevent any access to control panels and other Start menu features. Management software (which lets users choose which applications to run) may not allow access to these features.

This can best be addressed by talking to your information technology (IT) staff members to see what arrangements can be made. Compromises may include:

  • Permitting access to built-in utilities on computers that have other assistive technology loaded
  • Making built-in utilities available via the software interface that allows users to select other applications
  • Having a staff member modify security permissions when users request access to built-in utilities

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