Work/Productivity

Free and Cheap Screen Readers

Screen reader software converts text on a computer screen into synthetic speech and/or braille. The software also allows the keyboard to replace the mouse in controlling the computer, and provides other help in navigating. Although the most popular screen readers cost about $1000, this article covers some that are free or at low cost. They work relatively well with the basic popular software applications and general Internet tools, but do not have the "power user" features found on the more sophisticated programs.

Windows

NVDA (non-visual desktop access) is an open-source screen reader for Windows. It works with common programs such as Microsoft Word and Internet Explorer.

Thunder is another free Windows screen reader offered by a group in the United Kingdom.

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E-books and E-reading Software

Electronic books (e-books) are an alternative to print, and may be useful to people who have difficulty reading because of vision or cognition disabilities, or who have difficulty holding a book or turning pages.  However, not all e-books are automatically accessible to blind users.  Libraries and schools should carefully consider their choices when making e-book decisions.

This article covers some of the most popular current choices.

E-book content may be available in different computer formats. Some books and magazines are available as standard text files or Microsoft Word documents. These are easily accessed by the use of screen reading software.

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Braille and Braille Publishing

Braille is a system for publishing text for blind readers.  It uses patterns of raised dots to represent letters, which are read by touch.

This article covers the major sources of printed braille in the US.

Although not all print materials are converted into braille, there is a wide variety made available.  There are 3 major sources of Braille publications in the U.S.

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Accessible Mice

Standard mice may be hard for some people to move or click. There are mainstream alternatives like trackballs, joysticks, and track pads.  There are also specialized mice specifically designed for people with disabilities. Other solutions require little or no hand and arm movement. This article describes a range of alternatives to using the standard mouse.

Try It Yourself:

Several built-in utilities help with moving the pointer and clicking:

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Comparing the Accessibility and Screen Enhancement Features of Google Android Lollipop 5.0 and Apple iOS 8.1.1 for People with Low Vision

The AFB has posted a good comparison of the two dominant smartphone operating systems

"It can be argued that Apple has represented the gold standard of accessibility for some time now. It is reassuring to see Google taking accessibility more seriously with its more recent Android releases that include Magnification Gestures and color inversion."

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Archived Webinar: RSA’s Assistive Technology Programs and State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies – Working Together for Success

In March, 2013, Rob Groenendaal, RSA Assistive Technology Project Officer; and Brian Bard, RSA Assistive Technology Project Officer demonstrated how the Assistive Technology programs offer potential cost savings and enhanced services for VR agencies/counselors, and people with disabilities.

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Harnessing the Accessibility Features of Mobile Devices for Use as Reasonable Accommodations

December 11, 2012
11 AM Pacific, 2 PM Eastern

JAN (Job Accommodation Network) archived webinar. Speakers: Lisa Dorinzi, M.S., Consultant; Teresa Goddard, M.S. Senior Consultant; and Login or sign up for a free membership to register for this training.

Self-employment as an Individualized Process for Individuals with Disabilities

Tuesday, June 11, 2013
11 AM Pacific, 2 PM Eastern

JAN webinar on self-employment: " more than one way to the top of the mountain."

 

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Accommodations for Executive Functioning

Tuesday, May 14, 2013
11am Pacific, 2pm Eastern

AT can help with mental processes of managing time, making plans, multi-tasking, organizing, strategizing, and paying attention to and remembering details. Webinar from JAN.

JAN (Job Accommodation Network) presents Melanie Whetzel, M.A., JAN Senior Consultant, with Linda Carter Batiste, J.D., JAN Principal Consultant  who will spend an hour taking a look at the mental processes of managing time, making plans, multi-tasking, organizing, strategizing, and paying attention to and remembering details.

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