Assistive technology

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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Narrator

Narrator is the free built-in screen reader available in recent versions of Windows.  While Narrator has very limited functionality in Windows XP, Vista and 7, it was significantly updated in Windows 8 to include the explore by touch feature on touch screen devices.

Note: If you are using an older version of Windows such as XP or 7, it is recommended you use a more developed screen reader such as NVDA. If you have an Apple Mac we recommend you use the inbuilt VoiceOver.

Features

Features of Narrator include:

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Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2013

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Thursday 9 May marks the second annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day, a day dedicated to raising the profile of web accessibility amongst web professionals. In Australia, there will be activities held in different cities to explore how accessibility, or lack thereof, impacts on the experience of using the web for people with disability.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) started after Los Angeles-based web developer Joe Devon suggested the idea on his blog. Canadian accessibility professional Jennison Asuncion spotted the post and offered his help to get the day off the ground.

This year, organisers are inviting web professionals to get a taste of what it’s like for the one in five people who have a disability. Some of the suggested activities include: 

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Blind Maps: a new way to get around town

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A prototype for a device has been designed in Denmark which converts walking directions into a Braille-like pattern.  By connecting to an iPhone and using Google Maps and GPS, Blind Maps could enable white cane and guide dog users to walk around with more confidence.

The concept for the device, which is about the size of a business card, has 65 pins which rise up to signify instructions such as ‘go straight’, ‘turn right’ and ‘stop: intersection’. Currently, blind and vision impaired iPhone users can listen to Google Maps directions via headphones. This can be dangerous for people trying to negotiate traffic and the designers hope that Blind Maps will provide a safer alternative.

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