Readers and Writers for Text

Readers and Writers for Text

With the advances in technology, reading (by Screen Readers and others) and writers of text has become dominant options for persons with blindness and visual impairment that could potentially challenge the supremacy of the Braille literacy.

About this page

This page discusses everything about Textual documents for blindness and low vision. It is structured as follows:

Screen Readers and Magnifiers: There are numerous screen readers available for the most popular operating systems such as Windows, Mac, and Linux and their prices range from free to over 1,000 dollars. We take a look at different options in Screen Magnification Software, Screen Reading Software, PC Software, OCR Software, Digital Smart Pens and Scanners.

Large Print: Large printed books are gaining popularity for the users with low vision. We discuss what is large printing and Large Printing in India.

Audiobook Narrators: With the boom of audiobooks, narrators or voice over artist for book reading has become a vibrant profession and passion.

Accessible Formats: Braille, Large Print, Audio and Digital Text: People with blindness or visual impairment rely heavily on accessibility. We explore Commonly used Accessible Formats and present a Comparative View of Formats.

Making Accessible Webpages: ARIA Authoring Practices: One area where electronic accessibility is severely lacking, are webpages. It is important learn and practice what are needed for an accessible webpage and check Accessible Site Samples.

Screen Magnifier Features

  • Enlarges text, icons, other graphics up to 20X or more.

  • Enlarges and enhances everything on screen

  • Enlarges the words typed

  • Keeps focus on typed characters, keyboard commands, or mouse movement

  • Enlarges and enhances mouse and text cursors

  • Sharpens edges, increase contrast, and change color combinations

  • Splits computer screen – magnification and perspective

  • Customizable for vision acuity

Screen Reader Features

  • Reads out a screen loud

  • Default computer access

  • Customizable TTS for voice

  • Uses AI to speak-out screen changes as you type

  • Keyboard shortcuts to selectively read text elements

  • Announces keystrokes and describes icons, and graphics

  • Special mouse navigation and click / double click keys

  • Provide refreshable braille display in place of speech

  • Listen to documents such as Text, Word, HTML, PDF, or RTF

Screen Readers and Magnifiers

The two main computer accessibility tools are screen magnifiers and screen readers. If you have little to no usable vision you will be best served with screen reading software, which reads aloud all of the text and text-based elements displayed on a computer screen. If you have some usable sight, you might find screen magnification software, which enlarges the information displayed on a computer screen, helpful on its own or used in concert with a screen reader.

Screen Magnification Software

The most basic task of screen magnification software is to magnify the screen.:

  • A screen magnifier enlarges text, icons, and other graphics up to 20 times or more.

  • While typing a document (say, e-mail) with a screen magnifier, enlarges the words you type (easier to read). As you type characters, issue keyboard commands, or move your mouse, a magnified screen view will keep up with what you are doing and where you are focused on the screen.

  • A screen magnifier enlarges and enhances mouse and text cursors to make them easier to see and track.

  • It sharpens edges, increase contrast, and change color combinations to make things easier to see.

  • It gives users many options to customize what to magnify and what to highlight or sharpen based on their vision acuity.

Screen Reading Software

Screen readers speak letters, words, numbers, punctuation, and elements aloud, sending the voice output to your computer speakers or connected headphones.

  • A screen reader is the default computer access method for people who are unable to see the computer screen.

  • Even users with partial sight will want to learn about, and most likely use, screen readers.

  • Pairing a screen reader with a screen magnifier will enable you to spend more time using your computer with minimal eye strain.

  • Screen readers use one of a growing number of computer voices, also called text-to-speech (TTS) engines, to speak text. The voices are customizable, giving you the ability to set volume, pitch, tone, and speed.

  • As you enter data, click links, or issue other commands, the computer screen changes. So screen readers use a bit of artificial intelligence to determine what information you may wish to hear at any given time.

  • Full-feature screen readers include dozens of screen reader keyboard shortcuts that will read highlighted text, characters, words, paragraphs, and any number of other text elements.

  • Screen readers can announce each keystroke as you press it, decode and describe icons, and even describe certain graphic images.

  • Screen readers also include special mouse navigation keys that allow you to manipulate the mouse pointer, moving it wherever on the screen you like, and to press other keys to perform a mouse click or double click.

  • If you are learning to read and write braille, most screen readers offer an additional useful option. Instead of having your screen read out loud, you can obtain a refreshable braille display and use your screen reader without audible speech.

Sources:

Further Reading:

Introduction to Screen Magnifiers

In this video, Emma Urquhart, an Accessibility Consultant at Atos, talks about Screen Magnification Tools.

Screen readers and screen magnification - Getting interested in technology

People with sight problems discuss the accessibility features that make getting online more accessible. Chapter 1 of RNIB's

A Comparison of Three Screen Readers: JAWS, NVDA, and Voiceover

In this video, Caitlyn from Challenge Solutions compares the top three screen readers: JAWS, NVDA, and Voiceover.

PC Software

NVDA

NVDA, Nonvisual Desktop Access, Screen Reader allows vision impaired people to interact with the Windows and applications like Firefox and Chrome, email clients, chat software, music players, and Word & Excel.

Supports 50 languages and used in over 150 countries.


Uses the eSpeak speech synthesizer and SAPI 4 and SAPI 5 synthesizers.

It is free and open source

WebAnywhere

WebAnywhere is a web-based screen reader for the web. It requires no special software to be installed on the client machine and, therefore, enables blind people to access the web from any computer they happen to have access to that has a sound card.

It is free

Magnifying Glass (Windows)

Magnifying Glass is a free and flexible screen zooming utility. You can magnify any portions of the screen under your mouse. It is useful for designers, engineers, visually impaired users. It has various and unique set of features and many visual options. You can apply various settings by right clicking on its icon.

It is free

Serotek System Access (Windows)

This downloadable and complete screen reader can be used even outside your browser, thus making it one of the quickest ways of getting a screen reader up and running on your system.

It is free and open source

Serotek offers extended versions for a fee.

It provides screen access to Windows, as well as applications, including MS Word, Outlook, IE, Outlook Express, Adobe Reader, and Skype. It can be installed on two computers.

MAGic® Screen Magnification Software


MAGic is a screen magnification and screen reading solution from Freedom Scientific for low vision computer users. MAGic can help you work more efficiently with business applications, documents, email, navigating the Internet, and engaging in social networking. MAGic delivers smooth, crisp letters, even at the highest magnification levels.


MAGic® Screen Magnification

Software with Speech


  • MAGic magnifies the computer screen from 1.1 to 36 times its normal size to suit the comfort level of the user having Low Vision to enable him/ her to operate the computer independently and also to give training in computers to those with low vision/ partial sight.

  • It has in-built color enhancements which eliminate glare and increases contrast reducing eye fatigue

  • It also has mouse enhancements which makes finding & tracking the mouse easily

  • Has a cursor enhancement which helps to locate the cursor with colorization

  • It has in-built human voice which reads through the documents, e-mail & web pages

  • Easy to Learn - comes with large-print user guide and more than five hours of basic training in accessible DAISY text and audio.

  • Available in 2 options – With Speech and Without Speech

JAWS®


JAWS, Job Access With Speech, from Freedom Scientific provides speech and Braille output on PC. Allows to navigate the Internet, write a document, read an email and create presentations


Features

  • Works with MS Office, IE, Firefox, etc.

  • Two multilingual Text-to-Speech synthesizers: Eloquence and Vocalizer Expressive

  • Talking installation

  • Built-in free DAISY and Player and full set of DAISY -formatted basic training books

  • Supports Windows® 8.1 and Windows 10, including touch screens and gestures, and support for MathML


Professional Add-ons

How I Use Screen Reading And Magnification

(Voice Over - Talk Back)

In this video I show my 3 step process for using a smartphone and computer. I demo 3 tap magnification and Talk Back on an Android and discuss how it's slimier on iOS.

Thunder Screenreader (Windows)


Free screen reader for Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 3 or later, including Windows 7 and 8. It is not open-source, but it is free for individuals and organizations.

Distributed with the WebbIE set of programs, which provides a text web-browser, a podcatcher, an RSS news reader and other tools.

It is free

ORCA (Linux)

ORCA is a Linux based screen reader for the GNOME desktop. Recently it has been included with the Ubuntu installation CD, and with a couple of initial key presses it allows blind people to have audible interaction during the installation process.

Works with OpenOffice, Firefox, the Java platform and other applications.

It is free and open source

One Loupe (Windows)

Simple and easy to use, the small Magnifier is always ready when you need it to view all fine details, even the small print in the I-Net to decipher.

Features

  • Dual or multiple monitors support

  • Magnification modes: Normal, realtime, realtime + mouse (working mode)

  • Fullscreen magnification

It is free

ChromeVox (Chrome)

Google ChromeVox is a Google Chrome screen reader extension for visually impaired users.

It is free

ZoomText® (Windows, Mac)


Freedom Scientific offers ZoomText and Fusion, the leading computer access solutions for the visually-impaired.

ZoomText Magnifier


A screen magnification system


Features

  • 1x to 36x magnification

  • eight zoom window types

  • color, brightness and contrast controls

  • visible pointers and cursors

  • Dual Monitor Support and application-specific settings

ZoomText Magnifier/Reader


Screen magnification system integrated with basic screen reading capabilities.


Features (over Magnifier)

  • Application-specific settings

  • Human-sounding reading voices

  • Program, typing and mouse echo options

  • Automatic document reading

ZoomText Fusion


Screen magnification and screen reading software that provides the features and benefits of ZoomText Magnifier/Reader, plus JAWS - a complete screen reader.

COBRA (Windows)


Provides access to information on a computer for people who are visually impaired and converts information from the screen into speech, braille or magnified form