The Availability and Use of Screen Reading Technologies for Computer Users Who Are Sight Impaired

Topics: Assistive technology, Blindness, Screen magnifier Pages: 3 (900 words) Published: February 15, 2007
Summary of Screen Reading Technology
Screen reading technology allows a blind/visually impaired or learning disabled person access to information from the computer screen through auditory means. As explained by Neville Clarence Technologies, Ltd: Screen reading software gives the user control over which areas on the screen are to be displayed or spoken and makes use of artificial intelligence to decide what information is to be displayed or spoken automatically. It also gives the user control over the rate of speech, pitch, tone, volume, verbosity level, switching of languages and the ability to control how punctuation and uppercase characters are spoken. (Clarence 1)

Therefore, a blind/visually impaired or learning disabled person using this technology can read almost any web page, e-mail message, word processor document, spread sheet, or database. Screen reading technology consists of two components, screen reading software and a speech synthesizer. Screen reading software is a program that reads the information displayed on the computer screen audibly by passing the information onto a speech synthesizer. The synthesizer can be another software program that uses the computer sound card and speakers or a hardware device connected to or installed in the computer. Software synthesizers are included with most screen reading packages at no additional charge. Screen Reading Products Overview

There are three dominant publishers of screen reading software for use by people who are visually impaired. The first is UK based Dolphin Computer Access, established in 1986; the second is US based GW Micro established in 1990 and Freedom Scientific established in 2000.

Dolphin Computer Access
As stated above, Dolphin Computer Access has been creating software for people with visual and print impairments since 1986 and exports its products to more than thirty countries throughout the world. Dolphin developed one of the first commercial screen readers, "Hal", named...

Cited: "Screen Reading Technology." 05 November 2006 .
"Adaptive Technology Explained." 05 November 2006 .
"Products from Neville Clarence Technologies (Pty) Ltd." 05 November 2006 .
Scott, Michael. "For the Blind, Ballot to Finally Be Secret." The Plain Dealer (27 Oct. 2006). 05
November 2006 .
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