I get this question sometimes when I conduct workshops that focus on web or desktop application design that incorporates principles of accessibility. Do people with visual impairments really use computers for the same taks others use them? Can they surf the Web, manage e-mail, use a word processor?
The answer is yes. The key is a Screen Reader. A Screen Reader is a program that turns the text and other elements that would normally be displayed on a standard monitor and makes them audible. The most popular screen reader for Windows operating systems is JAWS (Freedom Scientific, $895). Other commercial screen readers include WindowEyes and Hal. Three popular free screen readers for Windows are SAToGo, Thunder, and NVDA.
Want to see how a screen reader makes an impact on the life of someone with a visual impairment? A recent episode of the “Curb Cuts” program, produced by CCATC, shows us how Greg Benavides uses JAWS in his daily life.
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