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One of the most powerful features of the Mac OS is also a feature that few of us rely on, Universal Access. This is a group of features built into the Mac OS that allows those with certain physical limitations to use the Mac. While it's designed primarily for those with vision and hearing challenges, there are a couple of features that those without these issues can benefit from. We'll go there through System Preferences and Universal Access in the top row. You see that there are four tabs. Seeing, Hearing, Keyboard, and Mouse & Trackpad.
So let's walk through them. The first entry is VoiceOver. VoiceOver is the screen reader that's built into Mac OS X. This is really, really good software. On a Windows machine you'd have to pay thousands of dollars for this kind of capability, but it's thrown in for free with Lion. Now when you turn on VoiceOver. (Male Speaker/Computer: Welcome to VoiceOver. VoiceOver speaks descriptions of items on the screen and can be used to control the computer using only your keyboard. If you already know how to use VoiceOver press the V key now.
If you want to learn how to use VoiceOver press the Spacebar now.) Chris: And we're not going to learn VoiceOver. But that's to give you an idea of this is how you initiate it. If you'd like to learn more about VoiceOver walk through that tutorial and it will show you how to use it. The gist is that when you put your cursor over something it will tell you what that is so that you know where you are without being able to see your display. And then there's the Zoom option. The Zoom option lets you easily zoom in and out of the Mac's display. You don't have to be severely visually challenged to use it, however.
Older people with weaker eyesight and yes, I'm one of those people can benefit from this, and you just use keyboard shortcuts to initiate it. So Command+Option+8 turns it on and then if you want to zoom in, Command+Option+Equals and to zoom out, Command+Option+Minus. Click the Options button and you'll find that you have various magnification settings that you can use to adjust magnification in this feature. Turn it off for now. You can change the way the display looks.
For some people it's easier to see the display if you turn on white on black. This is kind of an X-ray effect. To people with normal vision this looks very odd but with people with visual impairments this actually makes it easier to see the screen. Let's return to Black on white, the normal view. You could also Use grayscale. That takes all the color out, making things more monochrome. You could also enhance the contrast. This makes things look a little sharper, colors are more clearly defined, and again for some people using this setting makes the display a little easier to read.
Now let's go to Hearing. If you have difficulty hearing sounds then a system beep isn't going to help you very much. You can turn on an option to flash the screen when an alert sound occurs. It looks like this. And again, you don't have to have problems with hearing. If you're working in a really noisy environment and you need to be alerted, you may not be able to hear a sound but when the screen flashes you would be able to tell something is happening. If you've problems hearing with both ears, this is a good option.
Play stereo audio as mono. What this will do is take the two stereo channels left and right and it will play them through both headphones, so you'll hear both sides of the stereo mix in each headphone. So if you can't hear with your right ear, you hear all the sound with your left ear. Now to Keyboard. If you have a difficult time moving your fingers, sticky keys can help. What happens when you turn it on is that you can press keyboard combinations such as Command+Option+W for example.
You don't have to press them all at the same time. You can press them in sequence. When you do that it will treat them as if you press them at the same time. So let's see what that looks like. I'll create a new document here. Now I'm going to save this document. When I do that, normally I would press Command+S at the same time, but first I'll press Command, shows me the Command symbol on the screen and then S and I've saved, and press S.
So again, a simple way to press keys in series and have them treated as a single keyboard shortcut. And I'll turn that off, and that sound indicates that it is indeed off. Again, if you have a difficult time pressing keys very fast turn on Slow Keys, and this puts a delay between when you press the key and when it's accepted. So let's go back to TextEdit and see how that looks. So I'll type a word now the. So I press and hold t, now h and now e.
Now normally if I press that long I would see repeated characters, but in this case I don't because I had this feature turned on. Back to System Preferences and I'll turn off Slow Keys. And now Mouse & Trackpad. Mouse Keys is a feature for using the keyboard to control your cursor. This works best if you have a keyboard that has a keypad on it, but you can use it on a laptop keyboard as well. I'll show you how that works. I'll turn it on. Now I'm going to move the cursor just using the keyboard.
So on the keypad I'm going to press the number 8 and up goes the cursor. Now I'm pressing on to 2 down. This is 3, 1, 9, and 7. If I want to click something, say Mouse Options for example, I've tapped down here and I press 5 and that initiates the button. I've just turned that off. Now on a laptop again it works differently. You have different keys for this.
On a laptop you would hold down the Function key and on the top row of numbers you'd press 8 to go up, K goes down, O goes to the right, U goes to the left, I is that Select button for clicking buttons for example, and you can also go down and left using the nearby keys. One thing to be careful about is press the Option key five times to turn Mouse Keys on and off. Sometimes people will set this option and they're working on a Mac doing something and they're busily banging away going ta, da, da and they don't realize that in the background Mouse Keys is turned on.
When they are trying to use their keypad they find that those numbers don't work anymore because Mouse Keys is on. So we'll turn that off so we don't accidentally initiate that using the Option key. And using Mouse Keys you can change the Delay. You can change the Maximum Speed. I'm now going to reveal a little behind-the-scenes secret. Notice our cursor size, it's kind of big and the reason is because we want you to be able to see what's going on here. We've pulled a little trick on you, and that is we've increased the cursor size using this very setting.
This is our cursor size here. the normal cursor size is here. You can make it much, much bigger. If you lose your cursor use the Cursor Size slider and you'll find it much easier to find. We'll put it back where we normally set it for these courses. Again, Universal Access is not something that everybody needs to use but even if you don't have some kind of disability you may find it helpful.
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