Blind and visually impaired persons can't access information on a computer directly from the computer screen. Instead they use Access Technology. This includes speech, large print, and braille technology.
MegaDots is designed to work well with access technology, so that anyone can use MegaDots with ease. If you use access technology, you must tell MegaDots what you are using. The access technologies used most commonly with MegaDots are JAWS and Window-Eyes.
The MegaDots 2.5 installer copies the JAWS script files for MegaDots into the shared settings for any version of JAWS on your system. If you are using JAWS 5 or below, you need to compile the script files for MegaDots after installing MegaDots. To do that, launch MegaDots, press Insert+F2 S <Enter> and then Control+S. If you are using JAWS 6 or higher, that step is not necessary.
Periodically, MegaDots creates a batchfile
jaws.bat in your MegaDots directory which compiles the modern JAWS script files. Each time you launch MegaDots with speech, this batch file is run. If you choose to update your JAWS script file for MegaDots, you need to keep it up to date in your MegaDots program directory, or else MegaDots will over write your changes.
Window-Eyes offers support for MS-DOS programs like MegaDots only when operating on an XP, 2000, Vista, or Windows 7 system.
The MegaDots installer places Window-Eyes 7.5 set files for MegaDots in the MegaDots 2.5 program folder. and in the appropriate Windows-Eyes folder. Periodically, MegaDots copies the Window-Eyes setfiles into the appropriate Window-Eyes folder. If you choose to update your Window-Eyes set files for MegaDots, you need to keep it up to date in your MegaDots program directory, or else MegaDots will over write your changes.
It's also important to set the Windows font size in MegaDots to 8x12. Do that from MegaDots by pressing Alt+Spacebar and then selecting Properties. It's in the Font tab. That's probably the default font size anyway.
The MegaDots installer creates two different desktop shortcuts for launching MegaDots, one called "MegaDots 2.5 without speech" and another called "MegaDots 2.5 with speech". As you can undoubtedly guess, if you are using JAWS or Window-Eyes, use the shortcut called "MegaDots 2.5 with speech".
We know that the JAWS script files included with MegaDots work with JAWS up through version 13.0. If you get a message from JAWS that the script file is incompatible, simply press Insert-F2 S Enter to launch the JAWS Script manager followed by Control-S Alt-F4 to save and exit.
This paragraph describes avoiding the problem of really sluggish speech in MegaDots. At this writing, we have just learned that setting your computer's BIOS to have hyper threading turned on may eliminate the need for the system setting that we describe here. If you are using MegaDots with JAWS speech through Eloquence under Windows XP, 2000, or Vista; or Window-Eyes with a software synthesizer, it is crucial to eliminate a potential problem of unbearably sluggish speech in MegaDots. To access this setting, go to the Control Panel/System/Advanced tab and press the Performance button. The name of the setting may vary in different versions of Windows. In Windows XP Home it is called Processor scheduling. There are two choices, Programs and Background services. The default setting is Programs. Change this setting to Background services. Press OK for the Performance options and then for the System settings.
JAWS and Window-Eyes do not provide any speech for a full screen DOS application. If you accidentally attempt to use MegaDots in full screen with JAWS or Window-Eyes, you end up getting no speech or refreshable braille output at all. That can happen if you accidentally use the "MegaDots without speech" shortcut instead of "MegaDots with speech." It can also happen if you accidentally have the Braille view mode set for Big dots and switch into a braille document.
We recommend eliminating the possibility of attempting to use MegaDots in full screen with your screen reader by telling the MegaDots installer that you cannot use MegaDots with full screen on your system. See Chapter 2 for the details.
When the MegaDots Insert setting is set to off, JAWS doesn't track the cursor properly. Pressing the Insert key toggles the Insert setting on or off. If you accidentally press the Insert key and toggle it off, your JAWS access to MegaDots seems very messed up. If you suddenly encounter JAWS access problems in MegaDots, try pressing the Insert key. If JAWS then announces, "Insert on," then that was the problem, and you've just fixed it. On the other hand, if JAWS announces, "Insert off," then that wasn't the problem; press the Insert key again to turn Insert back on again.
When you use MegaDots 2.5 with speech, make sure that the MegaDots preference item Big cursor is set to No. The use of "big cursor" makes JAWS so sluggish that it is unusable. Big cursor (in Preferences/Editor) is used by some sighted people on laptops to make the tiny cursor more visible. If you share a laptop with a sighted person and you both use MegaDots, watch out for this one.
In JAWS versions 6 and above, the end of paragraph indicator in MegaDots (Ansi 243) is announced as o acute. There is an entry in the JAWS dictionary manager file mega.jdf to speak this character instead as "end of para." This works fine when there is punctuation or a space before the symbol. But JAWS 6 or above doesn't use this dictionary entry if there is no punctuation or space before the symbol, as it thinks that o acute is part of the last word of the paragraph, as in headings and title pages. In these cases, JAWS 6 or above pronounces the last word as if it has an o at the end. For example, you might hear "Welcome to MegaDots" as "Welcome to MegaDotso." This is fine if you want JAWS to sing a children's song for you, but not if you are using MegaDots with JAWS as a tool.
We have also noticed two other characters that have similar problems in JAWS 6 and above. One character is the forced end of line character, gotten by pressing Alt-Enter or Control-Insert L F. If this comes immediately after a word, without a intermediate punctuation or space, JAWS says "registered" instead of "end of line." The other character is the broken bar character which appears on each line of the paragraphs list (Control-J G), separating the beginning text from the style name. If the broken bar symbol comes immediately after a word, without any intervening punctuation or space, JAWS says "superscript 3" instead of "bar."
ELOQ.SBL, adding entries for these characters to make JAWS handle them better in more situations. If you have not modified this file before, begin by copying the file from your JAWS shared settings into your JAWS individual settings. To do that, go to the Windows Start menu - Programs- JAWS (appropriate version) - Explore JAWS - Explore shared settings; that takes you into the JAWS settings folder for all users on this computer. Select the file
eloq.sbl and press Control-C to Copy it into the Windows clipboard. Then go to Start menu - Programs - JAWS (appropriate version) - Explore JAWS - Explore my settings; press Control-V to paste in the Windows clipboard. If you are asked about overwriting, answer No as that would wipe out previous changes.
To make changes in
eloq.sbl, go to Start menu - Programs - JAWS (appropriate version) - Explore JAWS - Explore my settings; that takes you into the JAWS settings folder that is specific for the current user, presumably yourself. When a JAWS settings file exists in both places, the one in My settings takes precedence over the one in Shared settings.
Once you are in the settings folder, select
eloq.sbl and press Enter. That opens the file in Notepad. For American English, add material just before the line
[British English]. Add the new lines:
In both JAWS and Window-Eyes, there are several special keys set up for reading information from the status line. These are:
Note that ordinarily the JAWS classic laptop keyboard layout uses Alt-8 and Alt-9 as mouse buttons; those keystrokes do not work as mouse clicks in MegaDots in the classic laptop layout.
When you press the Delete key or the Backspace key, MegaDots says the character which is being deleted.
The Window-Eyes pass through command is Insert-B.
In JAWS the pass-through key is Insert-F3. We have also added an additional keystroke in MegaDots for the JAWS pass-through command. It is Control-3 (the three on the top number row). We added this keystroke because it is more convenient.
We reduced the number of keys for which you need to use the JAWS pass-through key. Now you don't need to use the JAWS pass-through key for pressing Control-Insert or Insert by itself in MegaDots. Be aware that if you press the Insert key accidentally in MegaDots, you switch to overstrike editing. When this happens, the cursor changes and JAWS has a harder time tracking the cursor.
You may still need to use the JAWS pass-through key for certain MegaDots commands, especially under the JAWS classic laptop keyboard layout. For example, in the classic laptop keyboard layout, you need to use the JAWS pass-through command for the MegaDots commands Alt-A, Alt-H, and Alt-I in the classic laptop layout, to issue the command Alt-A for the list of all styles, simply press Insert-3 (or Control-3) before pressing Alt-A.
You can learn about specific access products in the Interface Guide. Press F10 H I, select the product name from the list, and then press Enter. The access products are near the end of the list.
Some voice or braille access programs may have keyboard commands that conflict with MegaDots commands. For example, in the JAWS classic laptop layout, the Alt-H keystroke for reading the current sentence (or current line in older JAWS versions) conflicts with the MegaDots command to bring up the list of Heading styles. When using the JAWS classic laptop keyboard layout, to use the MegaDots Alt-H command for a Heading style, you need to press the JAWS pass-through keystroke first. As another example, if you are using Window-Eyes, the supplied keystroke for reading user window 1 is Alt-1. This conflicts with the MegaDots Alt-1 keystroke for setting the style level to 1. To use this MegaDots keyboard command, you could use the Window-Eyes bypass command first by pressing Insert-B.
If you are using MegaDots through access other than JAWS or Window-Eyes, the first time you start up MegaDots, type control-Z A V (the "V" is for Voice). This changes the User Interface in MegaDots. To save this setting, type F10 P S <Enter>. From now on, each time you use MegaDots, it will be set up for access with voice output.
Once you have set up MegaDots for voice, you can further refine the user interface by changing the Editor Preferences. To get to the Editor Preferences, press F10 P E from the MegaDots Editor. Examine the editor options available. Use the F1 help key to understand what each option does. When you are finished, press F10, and then press S <Enter> to save your preferences.
If you are using MegaDots through access other than JAWS or Window-Eyes, the first time you start up MegaDots, type control-Z A R (the "R" is for Refreshable Braille). This changes the User Interface in MegaDots. To save this setting, type F10 P S <Enter>. From now on, each time you use MegaDots, it will be set up for access with Refreshable Braille output.
set sayformat=n(where n is a number from 0 to 9). The style name appears on the screen for a moment, and higher values make the style name stay there longer. The only case we know of is ASAP, which requires
set sayformat=9 <enter>to make this feature work properly.
The following list describes the different sounds MegaDots makes to inform the user of current activities:
As you use the MegaDots Editor, you may find it convenient to move by paragraph. Alt-Up Arrow and Alt-Down Arrow move up or down by paragraph. The command Control-J G (jump to paragraph) gives a vertical list where each line shows the beginning of the paragraph with the style name following it. When you find the paragraph you want to jump to, press <Enter>.
MegaDots has some exciting features that facilitate editing braille with voice access. Set the Braille view mode to Expanded (Control-Z D E) to work more efficiently in braille with voice access. This lets you read a braille file with each line back translated. You are able to view the braille format, since each line has the contents of one braille line. Moving up or down reads inkprint (but tracking reads the braille words). Moving left or right switches to ASCII braille. The effect is really nice: you get to view the layout of braille quickly and easily, yet are able to change any braille characters in your document.
One command in MegaDots that is very useful to blind users is the Control-V voice command. You can voice the current word, line, sentence, paragraph or page (to voice a page, type Control-V P; to voice a paragraph, type Control-V G; to voice a sentence, type Control-V S). If you ask to Voice Document, MegaDots reads from the cursor position. Voice Character reads the current word one character at a time. When the document is in braille, a Control-V command reads the back translation, except when voicing a character. When you voice a character in a braille document, you hear the braille cells for the word voiced (for example, dropped b, er sign, dots 5-6). In conjunction with many combinations of speech synthesizer and screen access software, pressing a key during Control-V speech leaves you with the cursor on the current word (the last word you heard). This works well if your speech system uses "indexing." The flip side of this helpful "speech tracking" feature is that the speech is somewhat jerky. If the Control-V speech sounds jerky on your system, then the cursor will be where you want it when you stop the speech with a key press.
Pressing Control-V when you are highlighting with Control-X reads the highlighted area. This is useful if you lose track of what you have highlighted so far, or if you just want a certain portion of a document read to you. In addition, interrupting the speech with a keystroke truncates the highlighted area to the current position, provided your system has the speech tracking/jerky speech feature. Pressing Control-V immediately after a Control-X reads out text from the current position to the end of the document. If you press a key to stop speech, you create a highlighted area from the starting to the ending position.
See the section "Typefaces and Font Sizes" in Chapter 10.
There are two ways of accessing MegaDots with large print. You can use the built-in large print screen in MegaDots or use an external large print program such as ZoomText or LP-DOS.
The first time you start up MegaDots, type control-Z A L (the "L" is for Large Print) for MegaDots internal Large Print. Or type control-Z A 2 (the "2" is for double sized) for an external Large Print program. This changes the User Interface in MegaDots. So save this setting, type F10 P S <Enter>. From now on, each time you use MegaDots, it will be set up for access with voice output.
The "2" is for magnification to twice the size. You can use any digit from 2 through 5. Use a number for the most common magnification that you use with your screen enlargement program. From now on, each time you launch MegaDots, it will work with your screen enlargement program.
To work with large print and voice access together, you need to change the Editor Preferences directly.