TalkSerotek: Re: Venturing into Vista: System Access and Windows Media Center

Remove me from your mailing list.  
Jerome Berman
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Casey 
  To: TalkSerotek 
  Sent: Sunday, July 22, 2007 3:00 PM
  Subject: TalkSerotek: Venturing into Vista: System Access and Windows Media 
Center


  Hey everyone This blog entry is from the blind confidential blog. The blogger 
is using Vista with the media center with SA. Anyone considering a media center 
pc will want to read this below! 

  As I wrote yesterday, I have performed a clean installation of System Access 
on my Vista machine and have started living with it as if it was the only screen
  reader I had available to me.  So far, I feel cautiously optimistic about 
SA's performance in a variety of situations where JAWS performed poorly and 
Window-Eyes
  either performed poorly or provided mediocre support.  In portions of Vista 
where JAWS and Window-Eyes perform well, SA does at least as good a job and,
  in some areas performs better.

  Thus far, though, I haven't run any programs with System Access under Vista 
that did not come with my PC.  So, for the most part, day one of my 
investigation
  of SA in Vista meant using it in various operating system features.  The two 
I had hoped to look into yesterday were the Windows Media Center and the Vista
  Speech Recognition functionality.  I only found the time to look at the Media 
Center.

  Before I get into the specifics of using Windows Media Center with System 
Access, I'd like to discuss using the latest screen access product in general.
   As I mentioned in my piece talking about some of the difficulties I had with 
learning Window-Eyes, I mentioned that SA mostly mimics the JAWS keyboard
  layout so it feels familiar to a long term JAWS user as they learn to use it. 
 As I have noted in the past week, I use the JAWS Kinesis layout because
  I have a Kinesis keyboard which helps cut down on wear and tear on my hands 
and wrists.  As a result, I am accustomed to certain keystrokes that do nothing
  when running the Serotek product.  I feel that SA's lack of a utility that a 
user can employ to tweak their keyboard layout is a major deficiency of the
  product.

  System Access does a better job than Window-Eyes with keyboard functionality 
because it has a number of different modifier keys (insert, scroll lock, num
  lock, caps lock.) which does make using an oddball keyboard like the Kinesis 
a bit simpler but, because of my peculiar layout, I rarely need to use a 
function
  key while running JAWS so, while running SA, I need to take my hands off of 
home row more frequently than with JAWS or Window-Eyes which forces me to put
  additional stress on my wrists and forearms.  Thus, I would very much like to 
see a keymap editor added to System Access.

  My second major complaint about SA regards the synthesizers with which it 
ships.  Over the years, like many other JAWS users, I have grown addicted to 
Eloquence.
   No matter how clear, human sounding or emotive a speech synthesizer might 
sound, nothing sounds as good as Eloquence at fast speech rates.  Thus, DecTalk
  and NeoSpeech simply don't sound good enough at the speed I like to use a 
screen reader so, due to its lack of Eloquence, I need to move more slowly when
  using SA.

  As I wrote yesterday, I have a very strong interest in making home appliances 
and consumer electronics products accessible.  Thus, the ability to use the
  Windows Media Center application and all it claims to offer greatly intrigued 
me.

  I attached the coaxial cable to the jack for digital television on the back 
of my new PC and turned it on.  After logging in, I started System Access and,
  on the desktop, hit ENTER on the Windows Media Center icon.  The program 
presented me with an interface containing a lot of buttons and, for no reason
  apparent to me, SA "fell out of" the program and returned focus to the 
desktop.  Using ALT+TAB, I returned to the Media Center interface.

  The people at Microsoft who designed the Media Center program neglected to 
add a usable set of tab stops for moving among the buttons.  Cursor keys, 
however,
  worked properly to move from button to button so I could reach all of its 
features.  I checked this screen with both JAWS and Window-Eyes and they behaved
  similarly to SA.

  I found a button that said, "Setup TV" and hit ENTER on it.  This launched a 
wizard like set of dialogues that I had to follow to get the system to recognize
  my television tuner and cable attachment.  With System Access, I had to 
employ the "Virtual Mouse" (equates to the JAWS cursor and the WE Mouse Cursor)
  quite a few times to read the static text in these dialogues.  For comparison 
sake, I quit out of SA a few times to launch JAWS and Window-Eyes to see
  how they acted in this interface that SA struggled with.  Using the PC cursor 
in JAWS, I could only read the name of the default control, using the JAWS
  cursor, I heard nothing but "blank, blank, blank."  Window-Eyes fared 
slightly better than JAWS but I could not use it to complete the tasks at hand.

  Limping along using the SA Virtual Mouse Cursor, I completed the television 
setup task.  As the task was impossible with the other two screen readers, 
System
  Access won the day easily.

  Next, I launched the "Guide" by hitting ENTER on a button with that label.  
This brought me into the program guide set up wizard.  Much like the television
  set up interface, I had to switch to the SA Virtual Mouse Cursor to read 
static text.  Trying the same dialogues with JAWS resulted in the JAWS cursor
  saying nothing more than "blank" and my results with Window-Eyes were almost 
equally useless.  In some of the set up guide dialogues, I could navigate
  from control to control with SA but the labels didn't read automatically; 
fortunately, on each of the controls I could reach by hitting TAB, doing a 
SayLine
  read the information about the control and I could use it pretty much as one 
would expect.

  At some point, the guide set up wizard presented me with an edit control in 
which I was supposed to type in my zip code.  I do not know why but SA neither
  echoed the keys as I typed them nor could it read with its version of the PC 
cursor or with its Virtual Mouse Cursor.  I learned after I hit ENTER on the
  "Next" button that, in fact, I had typed my zip code correctly.

  Once I completed setting up the Guide, Windows Media Center downloaded the 
television listings for my cable company and returned me to its main interface.
   There, using System Access, I hit the "Guide" button again and the program 
presented me with a list, in channel order, of all of the programs currently
  playing on TV.  I could scroll through the list of shows and, by hitting 
ENTER on one, the television window would launch and I could hear the program
  and, with the Virtual Mouse Cursor, hear information about it.  I grew elated 
as this was the first time since I lost my vision that I actually had a "modern"
  interface to watching television and choosing shows I might want to record.

  Historically, I have always argued that professional applications, those that 
people use in a workplace, should have priority over home and entertainment
  programs.  To a large extent, I still hold this belief but I must say that 
having the ability to control a home entertainment center made me happy and,
  even with an imperfect screen reader experience from System Access in Windows 
Media Center, I felt having the ability to use these features of the new
  OS very rewarding.

  Today, I will play around with SA in Windows Media Center some more and, 
hopefully, if the latest Potter book doesn't keep me too enthralled, I'll get to
  the Speech Recognition features today.

  Afterward

  While SA was the only screen access tool that could handle the Media Center 
set up procedure, further investigation did show that JAWS and Window-Eyes both
  functioned reasonably well in the tv guide dialogue.  When using other 
features, though, the JAWS cursor never provided anything more useful than 
"blank"
  and Window-Eyes Mouse Cursor fared only slightly better.  So, including 
further investigation, System Access remains the top dog in Windows Media 
Center.

  -- End.

  posted by BlindChristian at
  12:03 PM

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