I have been beta testing a new offering from Brian Hartgen and the people at Astec called Leasey which stands for Learn, Enable, Advance, and So Easy! Yes, these are the same people who produced J-Say and J-Tools.
Leasey is a successor to J-Tools. Mr. Hartgen has surpassed himself in terms of catering to multiple audiences in this program. The primary focus of Leasey is on users who do not want or need to face the complexity of the computer. Leasey presents a simple menu system which facilitates the doing of common tasks such as writing letters, e-mail, spell checking documents, setting appointments, downloading and reading books etc.
The user has help at each stage of the process. For example, when the user is focused on a link, she can ask for help and will be told how to execute that link. The help however is not intrusive. Every action requires the user to press a key. This way, there are no surprises for the user. How many times have you heard people exclaim “Oh, that thing just came up?” Anyone remember the paper clip in earlier versions of Microsoft Word? In addition, Leasey does not completely mask the user interface of the computer. The user still has to use the common open file dialogue box etc. However, the introduction to these concepts is gradual.
As regards advanced users, Leasey has several features such as the ability to tag files for selection and movement. The tagging extends across folders and drives. The program can also store shortcuts to documents and webpages. Yes, you can have stacks of links on your desktop but those will slow down your computer. Here, the shortcuts are in a simple list box which supports first letter navigation.
These features make Leasey a tremendous efficiency booster. Take the example of navigating to your bank’s website. If you did not use Leasey, you would do something like this.
- Launch your browser or if your browser was open, open a new tab.
- Expand your bookmarks / favorites and find the site.
- Hit the enter key to go to the site.
- Find the place to enter your credentials.
If you have Leasey, you can do the following.
- Open a list of Leasey shortcuts.
- Navigate to the shortcut belonging to your bank and activate it.
- Use a Leasey point to get to where you have to enter your credentials.
See the difference in steps? I leave it to your imagination to compute the reduction in keystrokes.
>This point about reduced keystrokes allows me to Segway into a significant health related benefit of Leasey; namely, the mitigation of repetitive stress injury also known as RSI. I am not saying that Leasey is a cure all for RSI but the lesser you type, the lesser the chances of RSI. This is more significant for blind people because the computer is an integral part of their work and life.
As of this writing, Leasey supports the Jaws for Windows screen reader. Yes, it does require you to use popular applications like foobar 2000 for playing media but many of its features such as Leasey notes work in any application.
You can read more about Leasey at its website. If you are in the UK, you can see it being demonstrated at the Sight Village exhibition. Do check it out!