[Social-sciences-list] Introduction and stats software inquiry

Katie Wang bunnykatie6 at gmail.com
Mon Oct 29 18:48:03 UTC 2012

Hi Robert,

Welcome to the list! I'm a 4th-year Social Psychology Ph.D. student at
Yale University, so the accessibility of SPSS is an issue I have been
dealing with for years. I'm currently running SPSS 19 on a PC (I am
planning to install SPSS 20 next month), and while the interface is
not ideal for screen reader access, I find it adequate and use it to
complete all of my statistical analyses. Like you, I export my output
to Word or Excel for reading; to minimize the annoyance caused by the
sluggish JAWS response, I usually do as much  of the data clean-up and
preparation (e.g. arranging the variables in the correct order,
deleting subjects with extraneous responses) as possible in Excel
before importing the files into SPSS. I also use a combination of the
menu commands and syntax, which can speed things up a bit.

While I have little personal experience with other statistical
packages, I do know from previous discussions on this list that some
blind researchers opt to use SAS and R, which appear to require less
tinkering in the accessibility department than SPSS. I chose to stick
with SPSS for the same reasons you mentioned-- I was taught how to use
it in my stat courses and can easily get help from my colleagues if I
run into any problems. That said, one of my sighted labmates uses R
for all her analyses and gets her questions answered through web
searches, so it's perfectly feasible to use a different stat package
from the mainstream researchers in your field. In my opinion, it's
mostly a matter of choosing between dealing with the annoyances of
SPSS accessibility and taking the extra initiative to master a new
software with relatively little formal support.

Hope this helps!

On 10/29/12, Robert Hooper <hooper.90 at buckeyemail.osu.edu> wrote:
> Hello everyone:
> My name is Robert Hooper, and I am a third year undergraduate student at The
> Ohio State University. I am majoring in psychology and neuroscience, with a
> minor in Spanish and biology. I don't remember from where or whom I
> originally discovered the existence of this list, but here I am.
> So, I might as well start off with a question, as I have not yet had a
> community of people with visual disabilities to answer it.
> My question is: statistics. I enjoy working with them, which is surprising-I
> have always loathed working with other types of mathematics. Anyway, I find
> that with some tinkering, SPSS is halfway accessible. I have installed SPSS
> 20, along with the Java accessibility bridge provided by IBM. I find the
> interface a bit sluggish, and the output window completely inaccessible. I
> can, however, access the output if I export it to a Word document. For those
> of you in need of a statistical package, what do you use? If SPSS, what do
> you do to make it work? If not, what do you use and how does it compare to
> SPSS? I have heard of and tried R, but I have no experience with command
> lines, and using it seemed very tedious-I gave it maybe half an hour before
> installing SPSS and trying to make that accessible. Microsoft Excel can only
> be used for so much-when you get into regression and multiple regression,
> etc. it simply falls short (which is to be expected-Excel was never marketed
> as a comprehensive statistical package).
> If I must use another program, I face the problem of being alone-that is, it
> seems as though most people use SPSS. SPSS is often used in my data analysis
> class, both in the textbook and the classroom. All of those with whom I
> spoke about research say that they use SPSS. So, if I use another package, I
> fear that I wouldn't be able to get as much support from my peers, who would
> be unfamiliar with whatever software I would be using. Because SPSS is so
> widely used, there are vast support networks for it. If I had a problem with
> a statistical test or running a statistical test, a professor, peer,
> colleague, etc. could look over my shoulder and give advice-not so if I
> forego SPSS.
> There you have it-I'm sure that this has come up before, and I apologize if
> I am stirring up an already well-stirred pot. I hope that many benefits come
> from being a member of this community. I'm sure I will be in touch again-I,
> like many others with a passion for a particular field or subject, will
> happily discuss, learn, and debate until my fingers fall off. Thanks in
> advance for any help.
> One final note-I have a 2012 MacBook Pro with Mountain Lion installed. I
> also installed Windows 7 via bootcamp on a separate partition. I have SPSS
> for both Windows and Mac OS, however the installation of SPSS on the Mac
> side is inaccessible. Therefore, I haven't been able to determine SPSS's
> level of accessibility on Mac OS.
> Sincerely,
> Robert Hooper
> Hooper.90 at buckeyemail.osu.edu
> The Ohio State University, Department of Psychology; Department of
> Neuroscience
> 572 Stinchcomb Drive #3
> Columbus, Ohio 43202
> (740) 856-8195

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