Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard improves accessibility
Apple’s recently released Mac OS X Leopard (a.k.a. Mac OS X 10.5) has a lot of new and improved features that many find exciting. It’s encouraging to note that many of the new features are not just visual bells and whistles, but are there to improve accessibility.
There is a page on Apple’s website that describes the 300+ New Features in Leopard. Some of the features listed in the Universal Access section are:
- A new voice called Alex
- Built-in support for Braille displays
- A virtual Braille display
- You can now control VoiceOver using only the numeric keypad
- Improved navigation of long documents and web pages by listing and jumping to headings, tables, links, and text attributes
- Hot spots lets you monitor up to ten different screen areas and be alerted when they change
- Drag-and-drop actions can be used by keyboard only in accessible applications
- Positional audio effects provide an improved sense of location
- Improved accessibility of bundled applications and utilities
I haven’t been able to get hold of a copy of Leopard yet, but the improved accessibility features are among the first things I will take a closer look at when I do (which is hopefully within the next couple of days).
The features mentioned above are from the list of features that are specifically added or improved for accessibility. However, as Ricky Buchanan at ATMac mentions in Leopard: 17 Universal Access Features or more, features like performance increases, Finder improvements, and a grammar checker are also likely to improve accessibility for some people with disabilities.