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I'm a totally blind programmer who would like to learn .net. It appears that the Visual Studio express additions are not accessible since the scripts that come with Jaws for Widnows, the screen reading software I use requires the VS object model to make Visual Studio accessible. This is not available in the express additions, so the scripts may partially work or not work at all. None of the options mentioned in this question apply to me and I don't want to spend $500 or more to buy Visual Studio professional when I may never use it for a job. If I take the time to try out the express versions and run into issues is there any way to contact Microsoft without my questions/feedback being lost in a black hole?

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You can post it as a bug or suggestion to MS Connect and hope that MS as a big corporation will do something to make their SW accessible. –  Ladislav Mrnka Aug 1 '11 at 15:09
Would you try this MSDN page: Product Support and Accessibility? –  Nemanja Trifunovic Aug 1 '11 at 17:05

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You can get a 90 day free trial of Visual Studio at http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/ that should enable you to give it a darn good try. If you like it, and you decide you will go into .NET development, you will probably qualify for BizSpark if you decide to make a product you will sell. I agree that if you only intend to use it while working for a large company, you won't qualify, but then your employer will provide it, right?

Beyond that practical information, some general encouragement and suggestions. There was a 2004 video on Channel 9 about an intern who used a screen reader and Braille keyboard to code. It's at http://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/TheChannel9Team/Kenneth-Spector-Coding-without-seeing-the-screen and while I realize you may not be able to see it, others who use this question later might. In the comments to that video, Sara Ford identified herself as the "go to" person for accessibility at Microsoft and encouraged people to contact her. Sara has since left Microsoft, but I think it's a good bet there is still such a person. I've had remarkable luck calling the main switchboard and asking for "the person who handles" whatever I want to talk about; you could try doing the same thing. That could lead to a conversation about how well Express works with Jaws.

There is an entire Developer Accessibility area on MSDN http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/bb735024.aspx although from a quick read it seems to be more about helping developers to write apps that are accessible. However it has a TON of links including to forums and blogs, so perhaps one of them will be helpful. I think you'll find Microsoft will be delighted to help you succeed at this endeavour.

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