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Apple unveils Spoken Interface for blind OS X users

Apple has introduced a new accessibility solution for visually impaired users that it will integrate with the next major release of Mac OS X. The company took the wraps off of the new technology today: It's called Spoken Interface for Mac OS X. To find out more, MacCentral recently spoke with Mike Shebanek, Apple product manager for Mac OS X. Spoken Interface provides a combination of speech, audible cues and keyboard navigation to help blind users navigate Mac OS X with the same ease of use as sighted users have. Users can manage access to the Dock, menu items, tool bars, palettes and other on-screen objects, pressing buttons, activating sliders and checkboxes, selecting radio buttons, and using all the other interface elements of Mac OS X and its applications.

Long history of accessibility support

"Apple has a long history of working on solutions for accessibility straight back through the Apple II," Shebanek told MacCentral. Evidence of that is apparent today with the "Universal Access" system preferences pane built into Mac OS X, which enables users with sight, hearing and motor problems to more easily and effectively use the Mac. Third-party applications have also long been available to assist Mac users, as well. There's a category of software applications called screen readers that attempt to "speak" what's going on on the screen, handy for people who functionally blind -- but those applications have, by and large, not migrated to Mac OS X.

News source: MacCentral

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