Microsoft Office 2007 and the perks of assistive technology

I’m using someone else’s computer to learn Office 2007, because I don’t have it myself and public computers aren’t very accessible to me at the moment. However, I need to learn it for the sake of future employment. Friend graciously let me put Dragon on, so as to get the full idea. I don’t know that I’d spend the money for Office myself as I can get by with Jarte Plus and (to a less-reliable and more RAM-intensive extent) OpenOffice, but — dare I say it? — I like this program. Before you start doubting my sanity, let me say this for balance — I only like it because, having no mouse, I don’t have to touch the counter-intuitive, plasticky interface. So maybe that’s not true liking. Gratitude at squeaking by, perhaps?

I’m unsure whether to start with the good tweaks or bad first impressions, so I’ll give you a summary of what I did and elaborate from there.

Step 1: Say “start Command Browser” and choose Microsoft Word 2007 from the list. It’s easier if you uncheck Include Global, because it pares down the list. Study this list.

Step 2: Press F1 (there is no voice command for Help, perhaps in concordance with the tiny help button’s exile to the far right corner of the screen), and enter “hide ribbon.” Pressing Control-F1 hides the ribbon. There is no verbal command for this either, but you can certainly say the keypresses. Once you hide the ribbon, you get a great deal of your screen back. For me, I also regained my concentration, because I can’t take that much visual noise.

Step 3 (optional): Go online and search for a list of TRUE Word keyboard shortcuts (i.e. the ones that use Ctrl and Alt and function keys), then print what you find. The same goes for the other Office programs.

I just favor the traditional keyboard shortcuts, because they’re more compressed and become automatic; I have a quick memory. I would only use the F10 keytips (pressing F10 toggles the ribbon and keys to open various options) if you need to assist a mouse user with finding something in the Ribbon, which I will have to do if employed. But I prefer old-school for myself.

Now for some of the perks of being an assistive technology user:

  • If you use Dragon, and study the Command Browser well, everything you do is invisible. You don’t need to know where Microsoft hid the line spacing options, or what have you, so you don’t have to guess at the counterintuitive menus. Thus, you don’t need the ribbon. All you have to do is say the command. As far as dictation, accuracy is the same and speed isn’t noticeably slower (but I suspect Jarte is infinitesimally faster).
  • Once you’ve memorized the keyboard shortcuts from whatever list you find, your actions are likewise invisible. And I have to say, things become more convenient in some ways than they used to be. I absolutely love the keyboard shortcut for double spacing, for example — Control-2. I don’t think that was available in previous versions.

I could get used to this, though it’s not worth spending the money if I have a semi-decent alternative in Jarte; I’ve already put the work into Vocola commands.

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2 Responses to Microsoft Office 2007 and the perks of assistive technology

  1. Meman says:

    Who ever said you have to buy Microsoft Office 2007? I’ve never bought Microsoft’s program in my life. It’s a matter of principle. I still have them on my PC of course.

  2. hand2mouth says:

    I see your point, believe me — I dislike Microsoft’s monopoly intensely, especially regarding compatibility with assistive technology. If you add the cost of the software to the cost of the assistive tech, it’s usually robbery. Unfortunately, based on what I know of pirated Dragon software, I don’t think I’d have the guts to try pirated Microsoft software either — I don’t know how many times the crack serial number will have been activated on other computers, and if certain pirated copies of Office are anything like certain pirated copies of Dragon, I don’t want my software all of a sudden disabling itself. (I assume you’re talking about piracy here.) Now, if pirates ever found a way to get past the serial number counters… 🙂

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