If you're new to "Building a Better Digital Librarian" check out how it all started.
I'm happy to report that the first challenge was a success! I managed to listen to "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" from cover to cover (wasn't bad but I don't think I'll be reading "Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters" anytime soon).
On to this month's challenge...
As a sighted person I can only know so much about the issues our clients have with products like JAWS and ZoomText. I've tried turning my monitor off while working on problems but I've always wondered how I'd fare for a longer period of time. How hard would it be for me to get through an entire day?
Challenge #2: Work a whole day using adaptive technology.
I decided to split my day in two. In the morning I'd use a screen reader (JAWS) and in the afternoon I'd use a screen magnifier (ZoomText).
If you haven't used a screen reader before it essentially provides access to what's on the screen via text-to-speech. I've spent a lot of time using JAWS with the internet and think I'm pretty good at it so I figured I'd be able to manage getting around my email and other documents…
Well, that was what I thought.
After about an hour of being unable to figure out how to write an email in Outlook I admitted defeat and got in touch with resident accessibility blogger Martin Courcelles. He told me I just need to select Control+N to create a new message. He also suggested I check out his JAWS tips. Thanks Martin!
So what else did I learn through my failed attempt? Two things:
- JAWS, like anything, can be hard to use without reading the instructions.
- I need to plan these challenges a little better.
Screen readers are powerful tools if you do take the time to learn how to use them. They're something we'll be turning to again and again as we work to ensure the accessibility of the new library system.
Have you tried a screen reader before? You don't need to have JAWS. There are free screen readers out there like NVDA. Give it a shot and see how you do (tip: read the instructions first!).
Need more help with your adaptive technology or computer? Our CNIB Digital Library FAQ has some resources for training and support.
You'll need to check back in a few weeks to see if I fared any better during my afternoon with ZoomText.