Assistive technology

Using screen readers on touchscreen devices

The most popular touchscreen devices, including iPhones, iPads, Windows 8 tablets and Android devices have screen readers installed. This makes them able to be used by people who are blind.

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Assistive technology promoted at the Super Bowl

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Microsoft has used its advertising slot at the American football championship (known as the Super Bowl) to shed light on how technology enhances the lives of people with disability.

Using the case study of retired football star Steve Gleason, the 60 second ad details how eye tracking software on a Microsoft Surface tablet can be used to by people with severely limited mobility to communicate.

Gleason was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2011, and has since lost the mobility of his limbs and the ability to speak. Gleason communicates by focusing his eyes on a tablet computer with software that detects where he is looking. With this, Gleason is able to speak, write and even tweet.

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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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Demonstrations of Kindle Fire accessibility feaures

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The Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB) in the UK has released a set of videos demonstrating the accessibility features of Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets.

The first video, Kindle Fire for low vision users (embedded below), demonstrates how to customise the magnification, colour and font settings to make the tablet easier to use for people who are vision impaired.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3B1lTBKWjk

Watch the Kindle Fire for low vision users video with captions on YouTube


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Finding the right screen reader

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Our information on screen readers has been updated to help you find the one that best suits your needs.

Screen readers are pieces of software which enable people who are blind to use computers, smartphones and tablets. They work by converting text and other information into synthetic speech. There are many different screen readers available. Some come installed already on devices, others are free to download, while some are costly.

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