Assistive Technologies -"any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off-the-shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities." From the Technology-Related Assistance Act of 1988 (Tech Act), P.L.100-407, and the Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1990, (IDEA), P.L.101-476 Image from http://simmonsatshowcase.wikispaces.com/Assistive+Technology+Implementation+Model+-+CETT+Team
Image from http://assistivetechnologywikiesc18.wikispaces.com/
“ Screen readers are software programs that allow blind or visually impaired users to read the text that is displayed on the computer screen with a speech synthesizer.”* They are a type of assistive technology meant to help people with visual impairments or who are blind.
Video: http://www.doit.wisc.edu/accessibility/video/intro/intro_scrn_rdrs.mov - Is an intro to screen readers and talks about a man who assesses sites and documents using the reader
*Screen Reader Definition from- “Screen Readers”, American Foundation for the Blind, http://www.afb.org/prodbrowsecatresults.asp?catid=49
There are over 50 different programs that fall under the category of “Contemporary Screen Readers.” Some are free, and some require a subscription fee.
A couple that showed up on many lists I saw
JAWS (Job Access With Speech) – “This is a powerful screen reader program for people who are blind. It uses an integrated voice synthesizer and your computer's sound card to output the content of your computer screen to speakers. JAWS supports web browsers for internet access, e-mail programs, word processors, spreadsheets, presentation software, web development tools, database management software, and much more. “*
“ Hal allows blind users to hear rather than see what is happening on their computer by converting the on screen display to speech. Gives access to software, including Microsoft Office 2000 and Internet Explorer 5.0. Braille output is also available if you have a Braille display. Braille navigation independent of speech and magnification” *
Voice Over App – A screen reader for Mac, iPads, and both versions of the iPhone that is a gesture based screen reader. So when a person touches a part of the screen, the reader will just read what is in that area. The speaking rate is also adjustable and you can hear descriptions of anything being displayed like amount of battery left.
Oratio – It is a very expensive app, but seems to have a lot of good features and content.
“ Here are the app’s main features:
Intuitive and familiar audio user interface.
Easy-to-use customization options for frequently used settings.
Auto start mode when the device turns on.
Different verbosity levels to allow users to define the amount of information provided.
Settings control over the voice rate and pitch.
Keyboard echo settings for text entry.
Easy-to-use command structure.”*
TalkBack – A free app that provides spoken feedback when using native Android apps.
* Mauricio, “ Oratio Blackberry Screen Reader App for the Blind and Visually Impaired Now Available,” February 2, 2010, http://blackberryrocks.com/2010/02/02/oratio-blackberry-screen-reader-app-blind-visually-impaired-application/
Mauricio, “ Oratio Blackberry Screen Reader App for the Blind and Visually Impaired Now Available,” February 2, 2010, http://blackberryrocks.com/2010/02/02/oratio-blackberry-screen-reader-app-blind-visually-impaired-application/
“ Screen Readers”, American Foundation for the Blind, http://www.afb.org/prodbrowsecatresults.asp?catid=49
“ Screen Readers for Blind”, Ability Hub-Assistive Technology Solutions, http://www.abilityhub.com/vision/blind.htm