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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. Another good resource on Macintosh accessibility is the AT mac blog.
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.
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
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.)
OSX includes a simple speech recognition utility that allows users to speak mouse commands. It does not support dictation.
Many mouse functions can be carried out more efficiently through use of keyboard shortcuts. Common shortcuts include the following:
|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|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
VoiceOver is a full-featured screen reader designed for blind users. It is also built into the Apple iPhone and iPad.
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:
Information provided by the Accessible Technology Coalition (ATC).