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The goal for all teachers and students should be complete independence in VoiceOver, so that students who have visual impairments can access the computer in much the same way as their peers do. For students just getting started, begin with a very basic subset of commands, like listening to, and navigating within, a short story that's already on-screen. Staying a step or two ahead of your students can help them pick up new skills without some of the frustration that comes with trial and error.
As you encourage your students toward fluency, independence, and equity with peers, give support by working with them to customize some of the navigation commands and preferences. Encourage kids to learn one or two new commands a day until they're proficient enough to want to progress faster, eventually learning new commands on their own.Continue reading Show less
VoiceOver enables a student with a severe visual impairment or blindness to use a Mac computer and most of the applications that run on it. As a screen reader, VoiceOver "talks" to the user, interpreting links, icons, menus, and other content that appears on the screen. It can also be used with refreshable Braille displays.
Students must learn to use the program's commands in order to successfully navigate and hear on-screen content. While some commands are quite basic, others require more practice to learn. Help is available in the form of online audio tutorials and built-in help screens. Included as part of the OS X operating system, this utility can allow students with visual impairments access to content that wasn't previously available.
VoiceOver is a solid, free text-to-speech tool that offers access to the Mac for those with blindness or reading difficulties. Because it's a part of the Mac operating system, it works very smoothly with all of Apple's programs, but it's also compatible with an increasing number of third-party applications. Some of the keyboard commands are complex, and there are a lot of them to memorize, but there are excellent built-in tutorials and help options.
Basic commands can be learned fairly quickly by children as young as 8. Use of all the commands, however, is somewhat complex and requires memorization of keystroke combinations. Once students master the basics, they can move on to more complex functions as their needs require. There's a lot of motivation to learn quickly, as the digital world begins to open up to kids who haven't been able to experience it before.