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Improving Computer Efficiency with Leasey Advanced

Introduction.

As I said in a previous blog post, Sight Village London is getting closer and closer. So is the launch of our brand new product Leasey. In this, the next in my series of articles on the features which existing users of JAWS may like to access, I'm going to focus upon improving efficiency of using the computer.

When you are blind, the keyboard is of course the primary way in which we work with a computer. So, the less keystrokes you have to press, the better things will be.

Apart from making applications more accessible, one of the goals of Leasey is to improve efficiency and ensure less keystrokes are used on a day-to-day basis. In addition, I've always believed that if a screen-reader can do more than just vocalise what is on the screen, so much the better, which is why features like Custom Labels and the new OCR capabilities in JAWS V16 for rendering inaccessible PDF files are very important. They do not lessen the responsibility on HTML and document authors to make such items accessible, but we need ways of jumping over those barriers as a short-term measure. In some of its features, Leasey does just that. It considerably enhances what JAWS is able to do by default and gives us access to tools and services to make daily computing tasks easier.

LeaseyTags.

LeaseyTags is an intelligent application which works alongside Windows Explorer. Imagine the following situations:

  1. You are in a folder containing 50 files and you want to copy the first 36 of them. So, hold down the Shift key, press Down Arrow repeatedly to select the files you need, and after some way down the list you will find JAWS will stop reading out the selected files. That task cannot therefore be completed in one copying process.
  2. You are in a folder and wish to copy files 2, 6, 15 and 20 to the Clipboard. You could potentially hold down Control while pressing Down Arrow, and then press space to select the items you want. However, if you inadvertently release the Control key, you are likely to unselect those which are currently highlighted.
  3. You have a music collection and you want to copy some of the files from various folders onto your portable media player. You have to select files from one folder, copy them to the Clipboard, then paste to the device or SD card. Then repeat the process for all other folders.

LeaseyTags will help with all of these tasks. Simply focus on any file or folder you wish to copy, then tag it with a keystroke. Move to the next file with Down Arrow or first letter navigation and again, tag it. Move into a different folder if you wish and repeat the process by tagging as many items as you wish.

To check which files or folders are tagged, you can either move back through them, and as each tagged item is encountered, you hear a LeaseyTag sound. alternatively, press a keystroke to hear all the tagged items.

When you're ready to cut or copy, simply press Control+X or Control+C, Browse to the location in which the files should be placed and press Control+V. The items are in the new folder in 2 to 3 seconds.

"But", I hear you cry, "What if the SD card is full or some files cannot be copied?" We've thought of that. If this is the case, a screen will be displayed showing you those files which were not moved or copied. In addition, if you try to paste files in a folder where items with the same names already exist, we tell you about that too and give you the opportunity of cancelling the process.

LeaseyTags can be used alongside our LeaseyAudio application, so playlists can be created based upon tagged files. LeaseyTags can also be used to delete files, or alternatively, you can delete one or all of your LeaseyTags.

LeaseyTexts.

Imagine you work a lot with documents and Email every day. It could be that you need to regularly reproduce large blocks of text, such as standard paragraphs always sent to customers or clients. Or, maybe you are not a particularly proficient keyboard user, and you want to reduce the amount of text you have to type. These are just two examples where LeaseyTexts can help.

With a LeaseyText, you can store as much text as you like which can be reproduced at will. For example, you may care to create a signature containing your name, address, telephone number, Email address and so on. Simply create a LeaseyText with that information. It can then be accessed in one of two ways, either by selecting it from a list of all your LeaseyTexts, or through a form of shorthand. You assign an abbreviation to the LeaseyText so that, whenever it is typed in the future, it reproduces the full text instead. In our example of a signature, the word "sig" should be sufficient.

Our beta testers are also using LeaseyTexts in lots of inventive ways, perhaps to store product serial numbers or even a shopping list. Why a shopping list? Simply because you can view any of your LeaseyTexts in the JAWS Virtual Viewer. You would find the LeaseyText you want from the list and it is displayed for you to read. Pressing Escape will return focus back to the program in which you were working prior to bringing the LeaseyText into view. When you go back to the text in the Virtual Viewer, the cursor is focused on the line where you left off reading. So if you had a series of instructions for a piece of software you were trying to learn, this would mean you could read them without ever having to leave the application itself. The same applies to a shopping list. You could be purchasing your groceries online, and the list of items you want to buy is right there for you at your convenience without you ever having to ALT+Tab to another program to find it, then ALT+Tab back to the web browser.

LeaseyPoints.

There are so many other features in Leasey I could write about in terms of improving efficiency and usability of a computer, including LeaseyCuts, from which you can open any document, webpage or folder without having to enter the originating application first.

But again if you write a lot of text in Microsoft word, the chances are that you will want to quickly locate specific sections of the document again, perhaps for crosschecking against something you are about to write. LeaseyPoints will allow you to do this.

You can set up to 10 LeaseyPoints per document. Simply place the cursor on the line of text you want to get back to later, and set a LeaseyPoint by pressing a keystroke. That's it.

To return to that section of the document later, just press an easy-to-remember keystroke, and you're right back there. By default, focus is placed on the word where the LeaseyPoint was originally set which will be spoken. However, JAWS can be customised to adopt different behaviour when the LeaseyPoint is found. You may want to hear the current character only, sentence, paragraph, or maybe the rest of the document onward, although I think that would be highly unlikely.

So what happens if you insert text in the document after setting the LeaseyPoint? Good question, after all, this is Microsoft Word we're talking about here so that is probable. Leasey will set focus to the text containing the LeaseyPoint if the original text still exists. If it doesn't, she will make a very good guess based upon other factors as to where she thinks you want to be.

Whenever you open the document in the future, you will be advised that LeaseyPoints exist so you know that specific text passages have been marked.

LeaseyPoints can also be used on webpages, again to move back to important text passages you may wish to relocate later. Again, the process for setting them is just as simple as in Microsoft word.

Conclusion.

I hope you've enjoyed reading this post. As a reminder, you can come and see Leasey yourself at Sight Village London at Kensington Town Hall on 4 November if you would like to.

In the next article, I'm going to spend some time talking about Leasey's access to Skype, and maybe one or two other things as well. And remember, every JAWS user should have Leasey!

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