This spring–21 years after the Mac’s debut–Apple presented VoiceOver, an integrated screen reader that promises to shift expectations for how nonsighted users interact with a computer. Amid the hubbub surrounding the release of Tiger, the current version of Mac’s operating system, few in the press noted its existence–but in the accessibility world it was huge.
While the leading Windows screen-reading programs, such as JAWS, cost about $900, Apple began building a full-fledged reader into the operating system. VoiceOver refuses to abandon the graphical interface. Instead of stripping the text from its spatial situation, the program suggests how it looks on the screen by acknowledging the arrangement of windows and frames, and the difference between menus and content.