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Using a pc or mobile with a visual impairment.
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Old 26-10-2006, 23:30   #1
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Using a pc or mobile with a visual impairment.

Accessing your pc / mobile phone if you have no or impaired vision
Firstly before exploring other options available to you – you could try setting your windows theme to a higher contrast and enlarging the desktop icons. You can change these by playing with accessibility options in the control panel. This is more useful for people who have a poor sight that doesn’t involve any kind of distortion in their vision.

Remember EVERY eye condition is DIFFERENT, and so you should do what’s best for YOU!

There are several major players / packages for people who have a visual impairment. Both free and paid for.

Before listing them it is well worth mentioning that although the paid fr ones are expensive (typically £600+ for a decent screen reader and magnifier) – if you need these for work the government will pay for them through its access to work scheme. If you need to use a computer at various locations they will even buy you a laptop.

http://www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk/JCP/Customers/HelpForDisabledPeople/AccesstoWork/

Here are some of my thoughts on the different packages out there.

SCREEN READERS

The problems with using your pc will vary considerably with your visual impairment so it's worth sitting and figuring out exactly what you NEED to do – a screen reader is great, but will irritate everyone around you unless you wear headphones all the time ...

Voices on screen readers are still pretty robotic – now while it IS possible (technology wise) to make a decent/natural sounding voice it's not actually a good thing for a screen reader. Once you have used a screen reader for a while you will want to speed up your new 'voice' and a human voice begins to sound unclear the faster you make it – whereas as a robotic voice doesn't.. Having said that voices such as the one that comes with windows (Windows narrator) are pretty poor but still better than nothing.

Most screen magnifiers now offer a version of their software that can read the screen too.

JAWS (Job Access With Speech) – is a standalone screen reader and is very fast and has a reasonable sounding voice.

Hal is the voice part of Supernova (this is what Stephen Hawking has running on his speech system)

ZoomText also comes with a version that incorporates a screen reader.

Thunder – Is a FREE screen reader, this uses the narrator and thus is not very good (voice wise) but is perfectly usable.

SCREEN MAGNIFIERS

As with the reader – this is also a personal thing. Some people just need a little magnification. Some people, like myself, need an option that will invert or perhaps change the colour combination altogether (I prefer yellow writing on a black background for example), so think contrast.

Many of the commercial software packages will give you this option. There are MANY free magnification programs out there – but the thing that you will need the most is FULL SCREEN magnification, which is not so easy to come by for free. The only two applications that I've found that allow this are izoom (which will only magnify 2x over internet and more in word or in ordinary usage and so will probably become useless for most visually impaired people) and desktop zoom.... Desktop zoom is not bad at all, but runs in software rather than hardware. So if you have a powerful pc then by all means give it a try,

Lunar – ZoomText – Supernova. All do pretty much the same thing in that they offer full screen magnification using the graphics card to accelerate it and so give you silky smooth performance (unless you have a REALLY old computer), The other thing that they offer which is invaluable and not found on many free screen magnifiers is they can track the cursor. Ie the magnified section of the screen will move along with what you're typing in a program such as word.

These applications also allow you to 'play' with the colours as I mentioned before.

Then of course there is always the magnifier program in windows. Basic but usable.

Linux has little of practical use with regards visual impairment. But it does have gnopernicus as standard with the popular ubuntu distribution. And the newer xgl does have a very good zoom option.

MOBILE PHONE READERS

Before I list where to get the free and demo versions of the software I'I've mentioned I'll just mention mobile phones – if you have the symbian series 60/80 operating system on your phone (eg Nokia 6630 or n70) You can get hold of a program called Nuance Talks or Mobile Speak. While mobile speak will read out your screen – I found it frequently crashed on my mobile. Nuance Talks on the other hand is very good (and also includes a screen magnifier). Again both are expensive coming in at around £150


LINKS TO SOFTWARE

JAWS - http://www.freedomscientific.com/fs_products/software_jaws.asp

ZoomText -
http://www.aisquared.com/index.cfm

Hal – Lunar – Supernova (Same company)
http://www.yourdolphin.com/products.asp

Thunder Screen Reader -
http://www.screenreader.net/

Issist screen magnifier -
http://www.issist.com/

Nuance Talks -
http://www.nuance.com/talks/

Mobile Speak -
http://www.codefactory.es/mobile_speak/mspeak.htm

Desktop Zoom (Note I’ve only downloaded the zoom software from here so I don’t know what the other stuff it like) -
http://users.pandora.be/mylinks/MyWebsite/MySoft/MySoft.html

OTHER LINKS

http://www.magnifiers.org/
http://www.rnib.org.uk
http://www.sightconcern.org.uk/


If you need further information you can pm me.
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Old 26-05-2013, 15:34   #2
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Re: Using a pc or mobile with a visual impairment.

Gosh this is out of date. I wonder if I should do a new one.
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Old 26-05-2013, 15:41   #3
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Re: Using a pc or mobile with a visual impairment.

By all means - you are after all probably the forum's expert
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Old 26-05-2013, 16:35   #4
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Re: Using a pc or mobile with a visual impairment.

... and I have friend who will probably be needing as much information as she can get in the next few weeks. So updating your recommendations sounds like a great idea to me.
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Old 02-09-2013, 14:14   #5
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Re: Using a pc or mobile with a visual impairment.

what about using a magnifying glass?

I saw a guy on the bus the other day using one to read his mobile.
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Old 02-09-2013, 14:34   #6
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Re: Using a pc or mobile with a visual impairment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alanbjames View Post
what about using a magnifying glass?

I saw a guy on the bus the other day using one to read his mobile.
That is certainly an option for some people.

Some not so much, I couldn't for example.
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Old 02-09-2013, 15:09   #7
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Re: Using a pc or mobile with a visual impairment.

At work, we use Read and Write Gold by texthelp

While, not actually being blind myself, I can't say for certain how good it is, it does seem to get a good response from our blind or partially sighted users. It's not cheap, though.
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Old 02-09-2013, 17:26   #8
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Re: Using a pc or mobile with a visual impairment.

Please do a new article if you willing.
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Old 02-09-2013, 17:38   #9
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Re: Using a pc or mobile with a visual impairment.

No problem
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Old 05-09-2013, 13:03   #10
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Re: Using a pc or mobile with a visual impairment.

I'm working on this over the next few days while I'm away, how long do you want it ?
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Old 05-09-2013, 13:34   #11
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Re: Using a pc or mobile with a visual impairment.

As long as you think it needs to be.

You can post in here to start with, and we'll split it out to a new thread when you are happy its completed.
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Old 17-05-2017, 08:06   #12
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Re: Using a pc or mobile with a visual impairment.

I once met a woman who was completely blind - she told me she used Linux because it was easier to deal with a 100% text-based environment. She said there were quite a lot of tools available for the blind and partially sighted.
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