The Mac has always been able to read stuff on the screen out loud. But Apple has taken this feature light-years further, turning it into a full-blown screen reader for the benefit of people who can’t see. VoiceOver doesn’t just read every scrap of text it finds on the screen—it also lets you control everything on the screen (menus, buttons, and so on) without ever needing the mouse.
On a Mac with a multitouch trackpad, you can interact with what’s visible on the screen by using the trackpad itself as a map of the current window or screen area; VoiceOver speaks whatever’s under your finger. You can flick in any direction to move to the next thing on the screen. You hear a sound whenever VoiceOver finds blank spaces on the screen, all in the name of helping you “feel” where everything is.
OS X can also read entire Web pages, navigate Web tables, hop from link to link, and so on. You can navigate by pressing arrow keys, using the mouse, or using the trackpad.
Obviously, learning VoiceOver is a huge task that can take days or weeks—but if it’s your ticket to being able to use a computer at all, you’ll probably be happy to have such a full-fledged monster of a program.