August 2007 Archives

I don't normally use a screen reader, but I've observed many people using one over the past few years. Initially I was amazed by how incredibly fast experienced screen reader users are able to navigate between open windows and get things done. Because most screen reader users don't use a mouse, they are forced to learn the keyboard commands and end up being much more efficient than someone that remains a slave to the mouse. Surprisingly, most of this keyboard functionality is available in regular old versions of windows. It's incredibly useful and can make anyone a more efficient computer user.

The first step is to learn the keyboard commands for getting around in Windows. These range from using ALT-TAB to switch between current windows to the using combinations of CTRL, SHIFT and the arrow keyes to navigate and select within text editing windows. Microsoft has a comprehensive summary on shortcut keys to navigate windows here: Microsoft Guide to Windows Shortcuts. And a good article on using keys once in a program is located here: Mr. Hope's Guide to Shortcut Keys.

The next step is replacing the mouse altogether. For instance, did you know that SHIFT-F10 simulates a right click? For more useful information, check out the keyboard alternatives for using a mouse here: eHow's Guide to Keyboard Alternatives to the Mouse.

Follow these guidelines and you'll be surfing as fast as a screen reader user in no time!

-- Jeffrey P. Bigham

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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