Introduction and background information >

Comparison of user interaction between SpeakOn and Windows applications

SpeakOn has no visual interface. This means that a sighted user can see nothing on the screen but for a small window with the word 'SpeakOn' and some copyright information written below. None of its components - tasks, controls and menus - are visible. Having nothing on the screen means that screen readers cannot read anything; instead, SpeakOn is self-voicing. Therefore the comparison below is what a similar type of Windows application would have sounded like with a screen reader.

You can think of the SpeakOn interface as a simplified interface to the one used in Windows or the Mac.

A task provides the functionality to perform a set of operations to accomplish the task. When you start SpeakOn CalcPad, the Calculator task starts to run until you shut down SpeakOn. You can start other tasks using the Main menu; some tasks allow you to start other short tasks (sub-tasks) to perform related operations.

A task provides combined functionality of both a Windows form and a dialog. Like a dialog, the user can interact with only one task at a time. Unlike a dialog and and similar to a form, a task always contains a menu. In a Windows form, the [Alt] key moves the focus to the Menu Bar. In SpeakOn there is no Menu Bar; the [Alt] key brings up the Main menu which is a single vertical context-sensitive menu that provides similar functionality to a Menu Bar through the use of sub-menus.

The Main menu is used, among other things, to end the task itself. You will not find the equivalent of a dialog's OK or Cancel button in a task; these are not required.

A control is similar in concept to that used in Windows or the Mac. A dialog in Windows and a task in SpeakOn contain one or more controls and in both cases you can move between controls using the [Tab] key.

Relevant controls in Windows and SpeakOn can be navigated with the [Home] and [End] keys as well as single character navigation to skip quickly to the item you want. Most of SpeakOn's CalcPad controls such as lists and buttons have their equivalent in Windows but in some cases operate somewhat differently.

The [F1] key in a Windows dialog usually brings up Help topics. In SpeakOn the [F1] key brings the Help context menu which provides a number of context-sensitive help functions.

SpeakOn itself is a Windows program and you can always switch to another Windows program by using the [Alt + Tab] key combination while keeping the current SpeakOn task running in the background.

While there are some differences between the operation of SpeakOn and a conforming Windows program, great care has been taken to make SpeakOn keystrokes compatible as much as practical with those of Windows so new and experienced users should be able to operate SpeakOn with ease, together with their other programs.

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