My three books (“The First Time”, “Samantha” and “Sting In The Tail”) have all been written on my Sony Vio Windows 7 Home Premium laptop. I purchased it in John Lewis approximately 3 years ago and it has on the whole served me extremely well. Being blind (I don’t possess sufficient vision to read the screen) I use screen reading software called Jaws which converts text into speech and braille enabling me to read the contents of the screen. I’m currently using Jaws version 11 which is several years out of date (the current version is Jaws 14) and given the march of technology I’m finding that an increasing number of websites do not work as they should or, more correctly Jaws can’t interact with them correctly. Jaws 11 cost over £800 and to upgrade from the current version to Jaws 14 would cost approximately the same amount. This seems crazy as the cost of my laptop was £529 so in effect I could buy another laptop and still have change for the money I’d spend purchasing the latest version of Jaws.
The alternative to the above is to buy an Apple Mac. The advantage to Apple products from the point of view of visually impaired people is that they come equipped with high quality built in speech known as voiceover unlike Microsoft PCS where the blind user has to purchase additional expensive software such as Jaws (I’m not counting Narrator which is next to useless).
I’m used to I pads so purchasing an Apple PC wouldn’t be a complete leap into the dark. However I am familiar with how Jaws interacts with Windows. I know the short cuts for interacting quickly with Windows and learning Voiceover on an Apple computer would be a bit of a challenge. However I need to bite the bullet sooner or later and decide whether to upgrade Jaws or buy an Apple Mac otherwise I’ll be left with an increasing number of websites and applications which either do not work with Jaws 11 or, at best work imperfectly.
I’m rather fond of my Sony Vio laptop. It has served me well in my writing and other tasks. There is nothing wrong with the machine and it could continue to be a good little work horse for years to come (famous last words)! Anyway this evening I’ll be borrowing a friend’s Apple Mac so I’ll have the opportunity to experiment with Voiceover and decide whether the fruit or Windows (with Jaws) is the way forward. What a shame that Microsoft don’t include a high quality text to speech facility with their computers then blind people wouldn’t be faced with these expensive choices.