Screen reader Digital Accessibility

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Digital Accessibility

Screen reader

 

A screen reader is a software that tries to identify and interpret what is displayed on the screen. This interpretation is represented to the user through text-to-speech synthesizers, sound icons, or a braille output.

A screen reader is a support product specifically designed for people who are blind or have low vision. Through their voice synthesis, it allows them to access a computer, mobile phone or any electronic device.

The most commonly used screen readers for computers and mobile devices are listed below.


 

Screen readers for desktops and laptops

Screen readers for Microsoft Windows

 

Jaws

Jaws is the most widely used screen reader worldwide. It is fee-based  and is available for all versions of Windows.

This screen reader is very powerful, with one of the best voice synthesizers on the market and is available in most languages. It also allows us to use our own scripts to extend the functionality of reading and interpreting what happens on the screen.

It is possible to download Jaws in Spanish (version 17 by writing these lines) from its official website in Spanish. We can also get all the information and the latest versions in other languages, the current one in English is 18, from the JAWS website (in English).

If we install it without a serial number, the program will turn off after 15 minutes. To activate the product we must enter a valid license, ranging between 900 and 1100 dollars.

In Spain, ONCE affiliates have this program free of charge through its CIDAT research center.

Finally, you can consult a JAWS user manual.

In the following video we can see a blind user using the JAWS screen reader, he explains how to access his computer, as well as how he performs daily tasks of reading Word documents and navigating through a web page.

 

 

NVDA

NVDA - Non-Visual Desktop Access, is a free, open source screen reader. It was born as an alternative to Jaws and its high price. It is available for versions of Windows XP, 7, 8 and 10 of Microsoft.

You can download NVDA, in English, from the download page of your official website, in English. On the download page we will see the latest available version (2016.3 at the time of writing these lines) and follow these steps:

  1. Donation options. In this section, if we wish, we can make a donation to contribute to the development of the project, otherwise we select the option "Skip donation this time".
  2. E-mail. We must enter an e-mail and activate or deactivate the check box. If activated, we will receive news about NVDA in our e-mail.
  3. Now click on the "Download" button and the download process of the installer will begin.
  4. We select in this step where we want to save the installation file, for example on the desktop.
  5. After completing the download, we execute the installation file and follow the steps of the wizard.
  6. First, we activate the checkbox to accept the terms and conditions of use.
  7. Finally, we just have to choose how we want to use NVDA:
    1. To install on the computer
    2. To install portable version, as for example in a USB.
    3. To continue execution. We can use NVDA directly.
  8. In our case, we select the third option "Tocontinue execution".

We recommend that you consult the NVDA Keys, by default the NVDA key is the INSERT key. This will give you an idea of the possibilities of keyboard navigation that this program has.

 

Narrator

Narrator is a free screen reader that is included by default in the versions of Windows 7, 8 and 9. It allows us to use the computer with most of its functionalities. Although it is not the most complete option, nor the most widespread one, it can be used on specific occasions where we do not have other superior alternatives, such as those previously mentioned by Jaws or NVDA.

To run Narrator on our computer, we have to first press the Windows key on our keyboard and then type Narrator. Next, we press the ENTER key and that's how we can finally use the screen reader.

Screen readers in Apple's MacOS Operating Systems


 

Screen readers in Apple's MacOS Operating Systems

VoiceOver

 

 

Screen readers in Linux Operating Systems

Orca

 

 

Screen readers for mobile devices: SmartPhone and Tablet

Screen readers in Apple iOS Operating Systems

VoiceOver

 

 

Screen readers in Android Operating Systems

TalkBack

 

 

References

Screen reader in Wikipedia