Monday, September 9, 2013

What is screen reading and how to get a reader?


Computer screens and Internet web pages assumes that you can see and hear. In reality there are many people who cannot hear or see. That is where assistive technology comes in. While it cannot promise to give the same experience as the one experienced by a person with no such disability, it does give an option to experience what is displayed on the screen. For example for a person who has limited or no sight it provides sound by reading what is displayed.

A screen reader is a software that reads what is displayed on the screen (not necessarily web pages) and converts the text to speech (mechanically generated sound). So it can read menus, buttons, checkboxes, text etc.

Windows operating system comes with a text to speech converting software called Microsoft Narrator which you can easily find by searching for Narrator as shown.

There are also other proprietary screen readers such as,
VoiceOver in Apple Computers.

The most widely used screen reader is from Freedom Scientific called JAWS.
You can download a demo copy from here (URL is at the top of screen in the picture):

You may need some practice using this software as like in everything else.



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