(For those new to the column, Forward Migration is our term for companies moving from Wintel machines to Macs — or at least adding or increasing the number of Macs they use. A Forward Migration Kit is an overview of Mac OS products for a particular occupation, such as photography, optometry, etc.)
This is the third and final part of our special, multi-part series about software and hardware products that aid in the education and/or assistive living of the disabled and elderly. This first installment will look at some organizations and individuals that use the Mac. This week we’re looking at some specific Mac products for the disabled and handicapped — and the companies that make them, as recommended by our readers.
is a freestanding spell checker recommended by MacCentral reader, Bob Patterson. He said a “portion of it will read (aloud) almost anything on the screen.”
“I have a client with advanced macular degeneration who couldn’t live without this app either,” Patterson added.
Talking word processors
David Davis, technology consultant, Florida Diagnostic & Learning Resources System Panhandle Area Educational Consortium (FDLRS/PAEC) has
a Web site
that describes a variety of talking word processors, including the Mac compatible Intellitalk, Write Out: Loud, and Text Help.
from Hawthorne is a free computer program for speech-and motor-disabled users. It’s designed to assist in communicating in a variety of ways, reducing the input from the user to the minimum.
YSpeak is designed to run on the iBook, but it will also run on any Mac system with a minimum screen resolution of 800 x 600 pixels, according to John Morton, who recommended this application.
Don Johnson Software,
Laureate Learning Systems, and
the Learning Company
have dozens of applications for learning intervention disorders and many of them are Mac compatible. Their product catalogs are too lengthy to include here.
The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) has
a Web site
with links to sites with software and hardware. Apple also has its
own Web site
with a database of hardware/software for special needs students, teachers, and individuals.
Finally, Bob Thompson, who has failing vision, said that Mac OS X is a “disaster area” for anyone with low vision. In Apple’s attempt to make things look clean they have made it “unusable,” he said.
“The aqua colors lack the contrast needed for us to use,” Thompson said. “Magnification only makes things bigger and fuzzier. Nothing from iTools can be highlighted and read by an application that uses English Text-To-Speech. An Apple representative at January’s Macworld San Francisco said that they could easily make changes to make it useful, but nothing has happened. E-mail messages to Apple go somewhere, but there is never a response. The Mac
help menu suffers from the same faults.”
Thompson uses a small program/control panel named Hearit to listen to the text in a program. It can be commanded with either the keyboard or a multi-buttoned mouse.
“HearIt was created by Tim Fredenberg when he worked for Apple and was a free download,” Thompson says. “I have contacted him and to his knowledge there never was an upgrade. He was pleased to know that it is still very useful. I have used it through several versions of the Mac OS, including 8.5. I do not think it is available for download anywhere now but I will be happy to send a copy to anyone interested. It is a small program, less than 40k.”
You can contact him
by e-mail. He is also happy to send you “Color Arrow” which, when activated, provides a red cursor in three sizes that is much easier to find on a black and white page.