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Friday, October 28, 2005

The Many Windows of Zoomtext

ZoomText is an Accessibility application that combines a screen magnifier with a screen reader. ZoomText includes support for all Windows platforms, including Windows 95/98, NT, 2000, and XP Home and Pro .

The ZoomText family of software consists of two product levels: Level 1 is the most advanced screen magnifier on the market. Level 2 offers a fully integrated magnifier and screen reader designed specifically for the low-vision computer user. Both product levels have a reading module called The DocReader , a full-screen environment for reading text from any Windows application. DocReader automatically reads through complete documents, including web pages and email.

ZoomText users are diverse in many ways, from their type of vision impairment, to the computer applications they use, to their preferences on how the screen is magnified. One of the ways in which ZoomText accommodates this diversity is through its eight zoom window types: Full, Overlay, Lens, Line and four Docked positions. Each of these zoom windows provide a unique way of viewing the screen.

The most popular zoom window is Full zoom. In Full zoom, the entire screen is magnified, thus allowing you to see the maximum area possible. Many users don't venture beyond this choice because it's both functional and comfortable.

The Overlay zoom window displays a magnified view that can be sized and positioned to occupy any area of the screen. This zoom window is convenient when you need to park the zoom window in a specific location.

Using Lens zoom is like moving a hand-held magnifying glass in front of the screen, where only the material directly beneath the lens is magnified. As you move the mouse, type in text, and navigate menus and dialogs, the Lens automatically moves across the screen to keep the focus in view.

The Line zoom window displays a band of magnification across the screen. Similar to the Lens zoom window, the Line zoom automatically moves up and down keeping the focus in view. When a blinking text cursor is present, the height of the Line zoom window automatically resizes to the size of the current line of text.

ZoomText also offers four Docked zoom windows. These split screen zoom windows allow you to view magnified and unmagnified views of the screen in a side-by-side or over-and-under layout. The magnified view can be at the top, bottom, left or right portion of the screen , and in each case the unmagnified view is opposite. Both magnified and unmagnified views scroll, allowing you to view any area of the desktop.

Choosing a zoom window

Switching between zoom window types is quick and easy. On the Magnifier toolbar, select Type button, then select the desired zoom window type. You can also cycle through all of the zoom window types by pressing the Zoom Windows hotkey: CTRL + SHIFT + Z.

Adjusting a zoom window's size or position

With the exception of Full zoom, all of ZoomText's windows can be sized and moved to show more or less of the magnified view.

  1. On the Magnifier toolbar, click the Adjust button, or press the Adjust tool hotkey: CTRL + SHIFT+ A. Sizing handles will appear on the zoom window frame.

  2. To size the window, drag any handle.

  3. To move the window, drag inside the frame.

  4. To exit the Adjust tool, right-click or press the ESC key.

Zoomtext Can Read

Zoomtext also has the ability to read sections of the screen through four reading tools: AppReader and DocReader, which are best for reading documents (including web pages and email); and the SpeakIt Tool and Mouse Echo, which are useful for spot reading in any application.

AppReader allows a user to hear entire documents or emails. Reading can easily be stopped, and restarted by pressing the enter key, reading will begin from the position of the cursor in any document or email message. The following simple steps will get you reading with AppReader.

  1. Open an email or document that you would like to read.
  2. Position the text cursor where you want to start reading (if a cursor exists).
  3. Press ALT + SHIFT + A to start AppReader.
  4. Press the ENTER key to start, pause and resume reading.
  5. Press the ESC key to exit AppReader.

Next on the list of ZoomText reading tools is DocReader, which is a fantastic choice for reading messy documents. DocReader strips away all of the cluttered formatting, and presents only the text of the document in your choice of font style, size and color. Using DocReader is just as easy as using AppReader. In fact, the steps are the same, except that you press ALT + SHIFT + D to start DocReader. Oh yes, I should mention that both AppReader and DocReader highlight each word that's spoken, so it's really easy to see where you're at in your document.

In some ways, I think the SpeakIt Tool is the most versatile, because it allows you to read a selected block of text anywhere on the screen. Using the SpeakIt tool is easy. Just press ALT + SHIFT + I, which will turn your mouse pointer into a SpeakIt pointer. Then click and drag to highlight the text you want to read. When you release the mouse button, ZoomText immediately reads the selected text. When you are finished using the SpeakIt tool, press the Esc key or right click to restore your normal mouse pointer. I find the SpeakIt tool is great for reading information in tables, as it allows a user to read one particular row or column at a time.

Finally, there's ZoomText's Mouse Echo feature, which automatically reads the word or line of text beneath the mouse pointer. Just move the pointer over any text and ZoomText reads it automatically.

ZoomText's zoom window types and its ability to read full documents and sections of the screen are sure to accommodate every situation. Why not experiment today to see which zoomtext features will work best for you. Click this link to learn more about Zoomtext and other products from Ai Squared:

Ai Squared
P.O. Box 669
Manchester Center, Vermont 05255
Phone: 802-362-3612
Fax: 802-362-1670

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