Screen readers

Window-Eyes screen reader made free to Office users

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The market for screen readers, software which converts text on computer screens to synthetic voice, is becoming more competitive and people who are blind are beginning to see huge benefits. Last week, GW Micro announced it would make its Window-Eyes screen reader free to users of Microsoft Office.

The announcementstates that Window-Eyes will be available globally to anyone using Microsoft Office 2010 or later, saving users from paying $1,022. GW Micro states that the decision was a result of an increasingly critical need for people who are blind or vision impaired to have reduced barriers to technology access.


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Test of Android 4.4 KitKat on the Moto G smartphone

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We’re entering an era where cost doesn’t mean we have to compromise on accessibility. Last year, Motorola announced its $US179 Moto G smartphone. Here, Dr Scott Hollier, who is legally blind, road tests the device and Android’s latest operating system, KitKat.

As we reported in November, the Moto G is arguably the world’s cheapest accessible phone. And while the operating system that runs on it, Google Android, is not quite as good as Apple iOS, there are simple tricks you can use to ensure lower-cost Android phones and tablets suit your needs.


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Windows 8.1 update released with minor accessibility improvements

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Microsoft has launched the Windows 8.1 update today, building on the most accessible operating system Microsoft has ever released.

Similar in functionality to Windows 8, the update continues to improve on Windows accessibility and usability by providing improved touch screen support, some user interface improvements to the Start and lock screen, the return of the Start button in desktop mode and the ability to go straight to desktop on start-up. While the new operating system (OS) remains touchscreen focused, there’s more flexibility for traditional users of a keyboard and mouse to get access to the more familiar desktop environment of older versions of Windows such as Windows 7 and XP.


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Blind Arabic speakers left out in iOS 7

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Blind Arabic speakers have identified that the quality of the screen reader has gone backwards in the latest update to the Apple iPad and iPhone software.

In the update to iOS 7, Apple removed the ‘Majed’ voice for the Arab language setting for VoiceOver and replaced it with the inferior ‘Tariq’ voice.

VoiceOver is the built in screen reader for all Apple devices which allows blind users to navigate their smartphone or tablet. VoiceOver can be controlled through a series of gestures useful for blind users who cannot see buttons or other visual elements on the screen.

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