How do you use a computer and phone? This is a question that I get asked all the time, before I lost my sight I was able to use my computer and phone like a regular person would by using the computer’s or phone display. Now I use something call ScreenReader. What is a screen reader? you might asked.
A screen reader is a software application for blind or visually impaired people that enables the user to access a computer or a phone.
Screen readers work closely with the computer’s Operating System to provide information displayed on the screen such as; icons, menus, dialogue boxes, files and folders.
The screen reader provides feedback by speech, they use something called (TTS) Text-To-Speech engine to translate on-screen information into speech, which can be heard through earphones or speakers.
On the computer a screen reader use a wide variety of keyboard commands to carry out different tasks. Tasks include reading part or whole of a document, navigating web pages, opening and closing files, editing and listening to music.
A screen reader on a phone works pretty much the same way as with the computer but instead of using a keyboard you use your finger or a Brail display which I will talk about later on a different post.
Here is a list of the most popular screen readers today:
Mac OS X – Voice Over
Voice Over comes inside every Apple device all that you have to do is enable it and it will be ready for you to use it.
Jaws for Windows
Jaws is developed by Freedom Scientific, market leaders in screen reader technology. Jaws is primarily designed for desktop and laptop computers.
runner up in the global market share, is developed by GW Micro. It is only available in a desktop computer version.
the Windows based screen readers are separate applications and do not come bundled with the OS, which means that a substantial price tag is attached.
NVDA (By NV Access)
NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access) is a free “screen reader” which enables blind and vision impaired people to use computers.
As I mentioned before V.O. comes in every Apple device therefore the iPhone uses Voice Over as a screen reader.
Talk Back and Spiel
Many Android phones come with Talkback, Google’s free screen reading solution. If it is not installed on your handset, it can be easily downloaded from the Android Market. It provides basic access to many of the phone’s functions including contacts, the call log, phone settings, and many third-party apps. If it’s already on your phone, it can be activated by going to Android Settings and selecting Accessibility.
Spiel is another free screen reader available for Android. Both Spiel and Talkback provide similar functionality and work with a wide variety of applications. Spiel comes with a bit more customization, and also includes a way to write scripts for your applications to improve speech, if you are an advanced user. Several text-to-speech voices in a variety of languages are available either for free or close to free from the Android Market including Loquendo and Svox.