Montreal was an amazing start to the Future of the Desktop Tour and Vancouver just kept the momentum going. We had just under 600 people show up to the event and it rocked!! The night before the tour we also had 90 people attend the Windows Vista Chalk Talk held in conjunction with the Vancouver IT Pro User Group (http://www.vantug.org) and that was awesome.
At both events I spent some time talking to a fellow who is visually impaired and therefore faced with a special set of requirements when working with PCs. He is also confined to a wheelchair but despite all that has a great attitude and is willing to talk about his challenges. When asked what new accessibility features existed in Windows Vista and Office 2007 to help him be more productive, I had to be honest and say that I did not know the answer to that question. I have since learned that we have added more speech recognition functionality into Windows Vista, which should help. Aside from that, details on other accessiblity features are somewhat scarce at present but I will find out more and post it to this blog.
One piece of software that he showed me was a product called Jaws for Windows from Freedom Scientific, which appears to be the leading speech synthesizer software for Windows to help the visually impaired be more productive. The good news is that Jaws for Windows will work with Office 2007 running on Windows XP. However, it probably won't run on Windows Vista. He indicated that he would try Jaws for Windows on Vista and let me know, and I'll share that too when he does. As an aside, in case I was not clear at the event, it is possible to run Office 2007 on Windows XP.
Meeting people and finding out about their challenges, as I did this time in Vancouver, is always a positive experience because it allows me to better understand what IT Pros and individuals are going through when using Microsoft technology. Sharing those experiences is always worthwhile so please send me your stories so we can all learn.
Next stop Calgary....today for the user group session and tomorrow for the tour. This one I will be doing solo as Bruce heads back to Toronto to fulfill other commitments. He'll be in Ottawa on Tuesday so those of you in my home town, please show up and give him a warm reception.
I'll let you know how Calgary went on Friday!!