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Lesson 2: The VoiceOver Utility Part One

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Key Result Areas

In this section you will learn how to use the VoiceOver Utility to customize the information that you receive from VoiceOver.


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What Is The VoiceOver Utility?

The VoiceOver Utility is where you go when you want to change a setting specific to the way that VoiceOver works. As you work through this module it will become very clear to you just how powerful and customizable VoiceOver really is.

Opening The VoiceOver Utility

To open the VO Utility you will need to press the keyboard command of VO-F8. When you do this you will hear VO say “VoiceOver Utility,” and once it is fully loaded you should be placed in the category table and the first category General should be selected.

Working With The VO Utility

Now that you have successfully launched the VO Utility let’s show you how to use it.

As I said before upon launch you should be focussed in the category table with the first item which is General being selected.

Here is a list of all of the categories in this table.

  • •General
  • •Verbosity
  • •Speech
  • •Navigation
  • •Web
  • •Sound
  • •Visuals
  • •Commanders
  • •Braille
  • •Activities

General

Key Result Areas

In this section we will walk you through the General settings for the VoiceOver Utility. Each item will be followed by a short explanation of that item.

After launching the VO Utility you will be focussed on the first category in the Utility Categories table, which is General. To move the VO cursor into the contents of this category, press the Tab key. Here are all of the options in this category:

  • •”Welcome to Os X, VoiceOver is on”.This is the greeting that you will hear whenever VoiceOver is started.
  • •Display welcome dialogue when VoiceOver starts.This is a checkbox and it is unchecked by default.
  • •Portable Preferences.This is off by default. If you would like to turn this on you will need a removable drive such as a thumb drive on which to store your VO preferences. This comes in very handy if you ever need to use another Mac. With your settings saved on a thumb drive or some other form of removable media you can simply sit down at that computer and insert the removable media and your VO settings will automatically be applied to VoiceOver on that machine.
  • •Setup ButtonActivate this button by pressing VO-Space to setup your thumb drive or other removable media with your VoiceOver settings.
  • •Allow VoiceOver to be controlled by ApplescriptApplescript is a very powerful programming language on the Mac platform and with this option checked you will be able to further customize your version of VoiceOver to work even better for you. You must, however, need to know how to use and write Applescripts for this be useful.
  • •Help buttonWhen you get to this button you have reached the end of this section. The Help button will always be the last item on the screen in whatever category you are viewing from the VO Utility.

Return to the Utility Categories table and down arrow to Verbosity, which is the next category.

Verbosity

Key Result Areas

There are five tabs within this category and they are:

  • •Speech
  • •Braille
  • •Text
  • •Announcements
  • •Hints

Let’s begin with the first tab which should already be selected. If it isn’t then once you hear VO say “Speech” you can press VO-Space to select it. Once you have made sure that the tab is selected navigate to the right by pressing VO-Right Arrow until you get past all five tabs and into the contents of the currently selected tab which will be Speech.

Speech

The first item that you will come to in this section is the default speech verbosity . This is a Popup Item and by default your verbosity will be set to High.

This means that VoiceOver will give you the most information. This setting is meant for the new VoiceOver user. There are two more options inside this Popup menu and they are:

  • •Medium
  • •Low

If VO is being to verbose for you then try changing you’re setting to medium or low.

The only other option from within the verbosity screen is the Additional Speech Verbosity Options checkbox. This will be unchecked by default. Once you check this box a table with several customizing options will become visible to VoiceOver. If you would like to set a different verbosity level for certain items this is where you can do this.

Additional Verbosity Options

Once you check this box
a table will appear with several options for setting the verbosity level.

Here is what you will hear:

Custom Verbosity Table”

To have VoiceOver read the contents of this table you must first interact with the table by pressing VO-Shift-Down Arrow.

This table has two columns, the one on the left has a heading called “Control”, and the one on the right has the heading of “Verbosity.

To adjust the setting for each item after interacting with the table choose the first item in the left column which is “App”

.

Once you hear VO say “Control App” then you can press VO-Right Arrow to move the VO cursor over to the right column to select the Verbosity level for App.

You will hear VO say “Verbosity, Default Menu Button”

.

This means that you are now on a menu item that is currently set to the default verbosity level. In order to change this setting you will need to press VO-Spacebar to get to the available settings.

Each item will have the same available settings and these are:

  • •Default
  • •Low
  • •Medium
  • •High
  • •Custom…

Depending on how you would like VoiceOver to speak the information to you, make the appropriate selection.

The rest of the items inside of this table are:

    • •Button
    • •Checkbox
    • •Column View
    • •Combo Box
    • •Disclosure Triangle
    • •Dock Item
    • •Drawer
    • •Heading
    • •Image
    • •Increment-or
    • •Layout Area
    • •Layout Item
    • •Level Indicator
    • •Link
    • •List

  • List Marker
  • •Menu
  • •Menu Item
  • •Page
  • •Progress Indicator
  • •Radio Button
  • •Ruler Marker
  • •Scroll Area
  • •Sheet
  • •Slider
  • •Sort Button
  • •Splitter
  • •Table
  • Text
  • •Text Area
  • •Text Field
  • •Web Area
  • •Window

All of these will be set to “Default” which means that whatever you have VoiceOver’s Verbosity set to by default, all of these options will be set to match that setting. If you want to make your version of VoiceOver give you even more information than the default setting then this is where you can do that. It is recommended that at first you should just leave the customization of VoiceOver’s Verbosity set to the default setting and once you are familiar with all of ins and outs of using VoiceOver on your Mac then you might want to experiment with these setting a bit more.

Now go back to the tabs near the top of this screen and select the next tab which is Braille.

Braille Options

This screen is almost identical to the Speech option screen accept that these settings will be for the use of a Braille display with your Mac. On this screen you will also have a Popup menu to set the Braille verbosity level and a checkbox that when checked will display a table with the same options that are in the Speech options screen. If you will be using a Braille display with your Mac it would be a good idea to go in here and make any changes that you would like to make in order to make VoiceOver work the best for you.

After making any changes in this screen go back up to the tabs and select the next one which is Text.

Text Options

The options on this screen will affect the way that VoiceOver reads the information that is displayed on your screen. It will be important for the new VoiceOver user to take some time and familiarize themselves with these settings in order to make sure that VO will work best for them.

Your options for this are:

  • • Punctuation: This is a Popup menu with the following options:
  • •None
  • •Some
  • •Most
  • •All

You can change the amount of punctuations that VO speaks by changing this setting. If you have it set to All then you will hear every punctuation mark that VO encounters. This is great when proofreading but may not be suitable for casual reading.

If you set this to Most then you will hear items like period, comma, exclaim, and question mark. This is a good setting for learning how the author of the item that you are reading has formatted the item.

Probably the setting that is best for everyday use would be Some punctuation. With this selected you will not hear a lot of punctuation. This is mostly used for hearing items like dot com in a url, or a plus sign, minus sign, divided by, or multiply by.

The last setting here is None and this is used if you just want to read the text of an item and not get any punctuation reported back to you.

Repeated Punctuation

This option is set to first three times by default. This means that if VO encounters a series of the same punctuation that has three instances of that punctuation VO will announce them. If there are more than three punctuations VO will ignore them. You can set this to something else by going into the Popup and selecting one of the following:

  • •Always Spoken
  • •Spoken With Count
  • •First two times
  • •First Three times
  • •First Four times
  • •First Five times

The next option is While Typing Speak. Here are the options for you to choose from:

  • •Characters, with this selected when you type you will hear each key that you type.
  • •Words: when using this option you will not hear the characters as you type but when you press the spacebar after completing a word VO will speak the word that you just typed.
  • •Characters and Words: With this setting you will hear the characters as you type and you will also hear the word that you just typed once you press the spacebar.
  • •None: with this setting you will not get any feedback of what you have just typed.

When moving the cursor

    • • Speak text the cursor passes. This means that VO does not speak text until it passes it. This goes for whether you are moving forward through the text or backward. Let me give you an example.

If I were to write the following phrase here is how VO will report the text to me.

I am so happy that I have found this Mac Masters Series.

Okay make sure that your cursor is at the beginning of the sentence. You can do this by navigating backward one word at a time. If you don’t remember the command it is VO-Left Arrow.

  • Once you hear VO say the first word of the sentence which is “I” you can stop moving the cursor.Now your VO cursor is situated at the very beginning of this sentence and more specifically it is to the left of the capitol letter I which begins the sentence.

    Now lets begin to move the cursor through the letters in this sentence by pressing the Right Arrow. Notice that once you press the Right Arrow for the first time that VO will say “I”. This is because the cursor has passed through the character. The cursor is now on the right side of the letter I instead of on the left like it was before.

    Press the Right Arrow again and you will hear VO say “”space””. This is because you have just moved the cursor through the space after the letter I and VO sees that space as another character. The cursor is now at the right side of the space, but if you were to now press the Left Arrow you will hear VO say “space” again. What did you just do? If you said that you moved the cursor from the right side of the space to the left side of the space then you would be correct. Remember that the setting is currently set to speak the item that VO passes and this is how that works.

  • •Speak item to the right of the cursorWith this setting VO will always speak the character to the right of the cursor which means that whatever you hear VO say you will know that the cursor is situated to the left of what you just heard. Some people like this setting because this is how most Windows screen readers behave.

When text attributes change

You can change the way VoiceOver behaves when it encounters a change in the text attributes. This could mean when the text goes from normal text to bolded or italics text. Your options for this are:

  • •Donothing
  • •Play tone
  • •Speak attribute

When encountering a mis-spelled word

You can change the way VO lets you know of a mis-spelled word with this setting. Your options for this are:

    •Do nothing

  • •Play tone
  • •Speak attributes
  • •Change pitch

When encountering a link/attachment

With this option you tell VO how you would like to be alerted of a link or an attachment. Your choices for this are:

  • •Do nothing
  • •Speak
  • •Change pitch
  • •Play tone

Read numbers as

With this you will tell VO how you would like numbers read back to you. Your options are:

  • •As words
  • •As digits

If you set this to words the following number will be spoken like this.

2014

Two Thousand Fourteen

With it set to digits it will be spoken like this.

Two zero one four

When reading a capitol letter

This is where you will tell VO how you would like a capitol letter reported to you. The settings for this are:

  • •Do nothing
  • •Speak cap
  • •Play tone
  • •Change pitch

When deleting text

Here is where you will tell VO how you want the deleting of text reported to you. The options for this are:

  • •Do nothing
  • •Speak
  • •Play tone
  • •Change pitch

Words are separated by

With this option you can tell VO how you would like words to be separated . There are only two choices for this setting and they are:

  • •Punctuation and white space
  • •White space

These are all of the options available from within the text tab of the verbosity category. Now you can navigate back to the tabs and select the next tab which is Announcements

Announcements Option

In this section you can adjust the way VO announces certain events that occur on screen as you are using your Mac.

The options for this section are:

    • •Announce when mouse cursor enters windowThis is unchecked by default. If you would like to know when the mouse cursor has entered a window then you can press the Spacebar to check this option.
    • •Announce when a modifier key is pressedThis setting is unchecked by default and if you would like to hear when a modifier key is pressed then you can check this box. Modifier keys are keys like: Control, Option, Command, and Tab.
    • •Announce when the caps lock key is pressedThis is another checkbox and it is checked by default. If you would rather not have the caps lock key announced when you press it then you can uncheck this box.
    • •Speak header when navigating across a table rowThis checkbox should be checked if you would like to hear the header information across a table row.
    • •Automatically speak text in a dialogue boxMake sure that this checkbox is checked in order to have the text in a dialogue box read to you.
    • •Append Phonetic Pronunciation to single characterWith this option checked when reading by character you will hear the phonetic for that character immediately following the pronunciation of that character.
    • •When status changes under the VoiceOver cursorThere are 3 choices for this setting.
    • •Play tone
    • •Speak text
    • •Do nothingDepending on what you want to hear when this occurs you can set this to your preference

.

    • •When progress changes under VoiceOver cursor

There are three options for this setting:

  • •Play tone
  • •Speak update
  • •Do nothingDepending what you would like to hear when this occurs make your selection.
  • •Speak size and position in
  • •This is a setting to let VoiceOver know how you would like to hear the information about where the VO cursor is on a page. Your choices are:
  • •Inches
  • •Millimeters
  • •Points
  • •Speak text under mouse after delay:

This is a checkbox and it is checked by default. If you leave this checked when you stop moving the VO cursor you will hear the text under the mouse spoken back to you after the interval of this setting. By default this will be set to 0.4 seconds.

To adjust this setting move to the right of the checkbox and there will be a slider control. Interact with this and then press either the left or Right Arrow to move the interval up or down.

That is it for the Announcements section, now go back to where the five tabs are and select the last one which is Hints.

The Hints Tab

Your options for this are:

    • •Speak instructions for the item under the VoiceOver cursorThis is a checkbox that is checked by default.

      With this checked you will hear an instruction for the item that is currently under the VoiceOver cursor. This will happen after a delay of whatever interval you have it set to. By default this is set to five-seconds.

    • •When an item has a help tag

There are three options for this setting:

    • •Do nothing
    • •Speak notification
    • •Speak help tag

Note: You can get the help tag information read to at any time by pressing VO-Shift-H. If the item in the VO cursor has a help tag assigned to it when you press this key combination VO will read it to you. If there is not help tag assigned to the item then you will hear VO say “No Help Tag”

.

  • •Speak hints after delayThis is where you can change the default value for this setting. It is set to five-seconds by default but if you would like to change it just interact with the slider control and then press the left or right to move the setting either up or down.

Return to the categories table, and select the next category, which is Speech.

Speech

Key Result Areas

In this section we will be going over all of the available settings for the Speech category. Each item will be documented followed by a short explanation.

The next category is Speech, which contains only two tabs. They are:

  • •Voices
  • •Pronunciations

Move the VO cursor to the Voices tab and then press VO-Spacebar to select it if it isn’t already selected.

Now move the VO cursor to the right going past the second tab until you get to the first item for the Voices tab.

You will hear VO say, “Mute Speech unchecked checkbox.”

Be very careful with this checkbox because if you check this item you will no longer have speech output from VO.

As you continue to move the VO cursor to the right you will encounter the following six options for adjusting the VO voice:

  • •Category
  • •Voice
  • •Rate
  • •Pitch
  • •Volume
  • •Intonation

If you continue to move the VO cursor to the right you will next hear VO say “Default” which means that each of these settings will be the default setting for VoiceOver.

Keep moving to the right and the first setting that you will come to is “Voice” which is set to Alex by default and this is a Popup Button which you can press VO-Spacebar on to go into in order to make a change.

The next setting that you can adjust is the rate at which the VoiceOver voice will speak. There are two ways to adjust this setting, they are:

  • •Entering a numeric value into the edit box.
    Note: Once you enter in a numeric value the change will take effect immediately.
  • •Using the Stepper control.

Note: A Stepper control can be adjusted by interacting with it and then pressing either the up or down arrows. Pressing the Up arrow will increase the setting by a value of one, and pressing the Down arrow will decrease the setting by a value of one.

Keep moving to the right and you will come to an edit field for adjusting the Pitch of VO.

Note: Enter a numeric value into this edit field to adjust the pitch of VoiceOver. Once you enter in a numeric value the setting will take effect immediately.

Keep moving to the right and you will come to a Stepper control for adjusting the pitch of VO.

Note: Interact with this Stepper and then press either the Up or Down arrows to adjust the setting by a value of one.

Move the VO cursor to the right and you will next come to the default volume setting for VoiceOver. To adjust the volume level just enter a numeric value into this edit field.

Note: Once you enter in a numeric value the setting will take effect immediately.

Continue moving to the right and you will hear VO say “Volume Stepper”.

Note: Interact with this Stepper and press either the Up or Down Arrows to adjust the volume setting by a value of one.

Move the cursor to the right and you will come to the default Intonation setting edit field.

Note: Enter in a numeric value into this edit field to adjust the setting. The new setting will take effect immediately.

Move the cursor to the right and you will come to the Stepper control for adjusting the Intonation of VoiceOver.

Note: Interact with this Stepper and use either the Up or Down Arrow to adjust the setting by a value of one.

The next thing that you will come to is the Additional Voice Options checkbox which will be unchecked by default. Just like in the earlier example, to expose these options, you need to check this box by pressing VO-Spacebar.

Each one of these items will have the same six adjustable settings as the above options.

Here are the different voice options that you can adjust:

  • •Content
  • •Status
  • •Type
  • •Attributes
  • •VoiceOver Menu

Make any changes that you wish to these settings and then you can go back up to the two tabs for this category and select the other item which is Pronunciation. Press VO-Spacebar to select this tab and then navigate to the right to see what options you have for this section.

You will need to interact with the table in which the options for the Pronunciations section are located, in order to get to and work with them. Once you are in the table you can review the default pronunciations that VoiceOver has. If you would like to change the way VoiceOver is pronouncing something this is where you can do that.

This table consists of several default items but you can also add to this list by using VoiceOver’s “Add Pronunciation” function. You can do this by either activating the Add button that is right after the table in this section, or you can bring up the VO Commands Help Menu by pressing VO-H-H and then go to the General Menu. The Add Pronunciation item will be the second item in the list.

The following items are in the Pronunciation table by default:

  • •Dash which has a pronunciation of “Dash”.
  • •Semi Colon Dash Right Paren which has a pronunciation of “Wink”.
  • •Semi Colon Right Paren which also has a pronunciation of “Wink”.
  • •Colon Dash left Paren which has a pronunciation of “Frown”.
  • •Colon Dash Right Paren which has a pronunciation of “Smiley”.
  • •Colon Left Paren which also has a pronunciation of “Frown”.
  • •Colon Right Paren which also has a pronunciation of “Smiley”.
  • •Exclaim which has a pronunciation of “Exclaim”.
  • •Question which has a pronunciation of “Question”.
  • •Quote which has a pronunciation of “Quote”.
  • •Left Paren which has a pronunciation of “Left Paren”.
  • •Right Paren which has a pronunciation of “Right Paren”.
  • •Ampersand (The And Sign) which has a pronunciation of “And”.
  • •Less Than Symbol which has a pronunciation of “Less”.
  • •Greater Than Symbol which has a pronunciation of “Greater”.
  • •802.11B which has a pronunciation of “8 Oh 2 Dot Eleven B”.
  • •802.11G which has a pronunciation of “8 Oh 2 Dot Eleven G”.
  • •Gif which has a pronunciation of “Gif”.
  • •GUI which has a pronunciation of “Gooey”.
  • •Qty which has a pronunciation of “Quantity”.

The only buttons left for this section are Add,, Remove,, and Help. If you would like to add your own pronunciation to something that VO is not pronouncing the way that you want it to such as someones name you can activate the Add button to do so.

To remove one of the pronunciations you would activate the Remove button after you first focus the VO cursor on the item in the above table.

Now go back to the Utility Categories table and choose the next category, which is “Navigation.”

Navigation

Key Result Areas

In this section we will walk you through all the settings that are available to you from within the Navigation category. Each item will be followed by a short explanation.

There are no tabs in this category so once you select Navigation in the Category table just press VO-Right Arrow to move the VO cursor to the settings for this category.

You will find the following options:

    • •Initial position of the VoiceOver cursor: which is a Popup with the following two options:
    • •Keyboard Focussed Item
    • •First Item In Window.

Once you make your selection with VO-Spacebar the Popup will close.

The next item is:

    • •Keyboard focus follows VoiceOver cursor checked check box
      Check this to make sure that the keyboard focus will always be in synch with the VO cursor.
    • •VoiceOver cursor follows keyboard focus checked check box
      Check this to make sure that the VO cursor follows the keyboard focus.
    • •Insertion point follows VoiceOver cursor checked check box
      Check this to make sure that the insertion point will be in synch with the VO cursor.
    • •VoiceOver cursor follows insertion point checked check box
      Check this to make sure that the VO cursor will be in synch with the insertion point.
    • •Mouse Pointer: This setting is a Popup Item with the following three options:
    • •Ignores VoiceOver Cursor
    • •Follows VoiceOver Cursor
    • •Moves VoiceOver Cursor

Once you make your selection the Popup will close.

  • •Allow cursor wrapping which is unchecked by default.If you would like to have the VO cursor wrap back around in a list or a menu then check this box.
  • •Skip redundant labels checkbox. This is unchecked by default, if you would like to have VO skip labels that keep repeating, then check this box.
  • •Automatically interact when using the Tab key checkbox. This is unchecked by default.<
    If you would like the VoiceOver cursor to interact when you press the Tab key then check this box.
  • •Fast Searching, which is unchecked by default.
    With Fast Searching enabled you can assign either the Right Command key or the Left Command key for the ability to quickly jump to an item based on its first letter. For instance in the Dock I currently have three items that begin with the letter T. If I have Fast Searching enabled I can quickly jump from item to item by pressing the Right Command plus the letter T.

Note: If you use Fast Searching the Command key that is chosen from the Popup after the checkbox will no longer function as it normally does.

Now go back to the Category table and select the next item which is Web.

Web

Key Result Areas

In this section we will go through all of the available settings for the Web category. Each item will be followed by a short explanation.

There are three tabs in this category. Move the VO cursor to the right until you land on the first tab which is Navigation.

Move the VO cursor past the other two tabs to reach the options for navigating on the web.

    • •Navigate web pages by:

There are two Radio buttons for this option, they are:

  • •DOM Order
  • •Grouping Items

If you want the items on a web page to appear just as they would to someone who is sighted, then make sure that the first option is selected. If you choose the second option then the items on a web page will be put into groups of similar items.

Note: For the best experience it is recommended that you choose DOM Order.

When navigating web tables:

  • •Group items within When navigating web tables: unchecked check box
  • •Speak column and row numbers checked check box

The second option is the one that will give you the best experience when navigating in a table.

Navigate Images:

This is a Popup with the following three options:

  • •Never
  • •With descriptions
  • •Always

Enable Live Regions checked check box

Live Regions are the part of a website that has frequently updated content such as a sports related website in which the scores are updated every minute or so.

Now move the VO cursor to the second tab in the Web section and select it by pressing VO-Spacebar.

The title of this tab is Page Loading and here is what you will find in this section:

When loading a new webpage:

  • •Speak webpage summary When loading a new webpage: checked check boxIf you like to hear this information then make sure to check this box
  • •Move the VoiceOver cursor to it When loading a new webpage: checked check boxSelect this to have the VO cursor automatically moved to the webpage when it is loaded.
  • •Automatically speak the webpage When loading a new webpage: unchecked check boxDepending on what you prefer the behavior of your screen reader to be after a webpage is loaded make the appropriate selection here. If you like to have the webpage read to you after it is loaded then check this box, if you would rather not have the webpage read automatically then leave this unchecked.

While a webpage loads:

This is a Popup with the following three options:

  • •Speak progress
  • •Play tone
  • •Do nothing

If you would like the progress of the webpage to be announced to you then choose the first option. To have the progress reported to you in the form of a tone then choose the second option, and finally if you do not wish to hear anything when a webpage is being loaded then choose the third option in this Popup.

This is all for this section so move the VO cursor to the third and final tab, which is web rotor, for the Web category. Select it by pressing VO-Spacebar.

This is where you will tell VoiceOver what items, and in what order, you would like to have available in the Web Rotor.

Web Rotor Items:

Select a checkbox to enable or disable an item.

To reorder the items, use ⌘-↑ and ⌘-↓

.

Here are your choices.

  • •Links
  • •Headings
  • •Form Controls
  • •Web Spots
  • •Tables
  • •Landmarks
  • •Auto Webspots
  • •Frames
  • •Buttons
  • •Text Fields
  • •Live Regions
  • •Visited Links
  • •Status Text
  • •Radio Groups
  • •Checkboxes
  • •Images
  • •Lines
  • •Lists
  • •Non Visited Links

It is completely up to you how you would like your Web Rotor to be arranged. Select the checkbox of the items that you want to be listed in the Web Rotor and leave unchecked the items that you do not want to show up in the Web Rotor.

It is recommended that you select all these items because you never know when you will need to review the items in one of these categories on a given webpage.

To sort the items in the order that you want them to appear in the Web Rotor, jus interact with the Web Rotor table and then move the VO cursor to the item that you wish to move either up or down. Then press and hold down the Command key while pressing either the Up or Down Arrow. When you get the item in the position that you want it to be simply let go of the Command and Arrow keys.

Now navigate to the Categories table and move the VO cursor down to the next category which is Sounds.

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