30+ Accessibility Tools, Softwares & Resources for The Visually Impaired
Free ebooks are meant to be read and enjoyed by everybody regardless of physical imperfections, hence why this post is being made, although I must admit that this should be the first post that should be posted here. Having said that, do join me in the journey to increase this list of resources to make it a comprehensive one, to provide and create the proper accessibility channels. I’m sure there are other list out there which covers some of the areas below, but I do hope this post will somehow be a part of the whole effort in making this a reality.
Been covered here, 35 total sites found so far providing free downloadable audio ebooks.
Adobe Reader 9 Accessibility
Taking note that 99% of the ebooks on this site are in PDF format, Adobe has a site dedicated specifically in providing information in greater details on making it easier for people with disabilities to read PDF files. Since Adobe PDF Reader is free, I think it’s worth taking advantage of this built in feature. For more information, you can jump straight to Adobe’s special section or click the following link to download the manual – Accessing PDF Documents with Assistive Technology: A Screen Reader User’s Guide (PDF, 368k).
Screen Readers (Free)
One of the most obvious ones came with your copy of Windows. Just go to (WinXP) Start Menu > Accessories > Accessibility > Narrator. Or if you prefer to use a magnifier to zoom into piece of information, go to (WinXP) Start Menu > Accessories > Accessibility > Magnifier.
- FireVox – Firefox BrowsersFire Vox is a free and open source extension for the Mozilla Firefox web browser that transforms it into a self-voicing application. Easy to install and operate, it works on Windows, Mac, and Linux. It can work independently, or together with screen readers such as Orca.
- Satogo – Browser IE 6.0+ Offers a web-resident version of this screen reader to users completely free of charge, making any computer with internet accessible in seconds. Simply visit www.satogo.com and create your free SA ToGo account.
- Spoken Web – IE / WindowsSpoken is a Web portal, managing a wide range of online data-intensive content like news updates, weather, travel and business articles for computer users who are blind or visually impaired.
- NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA) – WindowsA free and open source screen reader for the Microsoft Windows operating system. This software can enable blind or vision impaired people to access computers running Windows for no more cost than a sighted person.
- Thunder Screen Reader – WindowsThunder is award-winning free screenreader talking software for people with little or no sight.
- WebAnywhere Alpha – Browser BasedA non-visual interface to the web that requires no new software to be downloaded or installed.It works right in the browser, which means you can access it from any computer.
- Screen Access for All (SAFA) and here – MS Word / WindowsMedia Lab Asia & NAB Delhi have jointly developed the screen reading software named SAFA. This is an open source software & supports many Indian languages. It is being provided free of charge by NAB Delhi.
- VoiceOver – MacVoiceOver for Mac users is an accessibility interface that offers you magnification options, keyboard control and spoken English descriptions of what’s happening on screen.
- Orca – Open Solaris, Fedora, and UbuntuOrca is a free, open source scriptable screen reader. Using various combinations of speech, braille, and magnification, Orca helps provide access to applications and toolkits that support the AT-SPI (e.g., the GNOME desktop).
- Emacspeak – Unix / LinuxA free screen reader for Emacs which is written in C and is portable to all POSIX-compatible OSs.
- EDBrowse – Unix / LinuxEdbrowse (or edbrowse) is a command-line program for Unix-like systems that combines features of text editors, web browsers, and email clients. It was originally intended for blind users.
- BRLTTY – Unix / LinuxA background process (daemon) which provides access to the Linux/Unix console (when in text mode) for a blind person using a refreshable braille display. It drives the braille display, and provides complete screen review functionality. Some speech capability has also been incorporated.
Screen Readers (Commercial)
- JAWS – Windows (Demo available, Purchase $895.00 (Standard), $1,095.00 (Pro))
- Mobile Speak – Mobile Phones / PDA (30 day Trial available, Purchase $275.00)
- Virgo – Windows (Demo available, price unavailable)
- Window Eyes – Windows (Demo available – expires every 30 minutes (reset upon reboot), Purchase $895.00)
- ZoomText – Windows (Free Trial available, Purchase $595.00 CD Version. Other options available.)
- SuperNova – Windows (Free Trial available, Purchase price unavailable)
- Hal – Windows (Free Trial available, Purchase $795.00)
- Simply Talker – Windows (Free 30 day Trial available, Purchase $50 – $100 (Various versions))
- Proloquo – Mac (Demo available, Purchase $299)
- PCVoz – Windows (No demo? Purchase $90 (5 users) & $150 (10 users))
- Tex Edit Plus – Mac (Trial version available, Purchase $15 Single User License)
- Lookout – Windows (Demo? Purchase £107.00)
- HT Reader – Windows (Free trial available, Purchase EUR 300.00)
- Issist – Windows (Free trial available, Purchase $19.95/month)
Text to Audio / Speech Applications (Online & Offline)
- SpokenText – Online Converter (Free)It allows you to record (English, French, Spanish or German) PDF, Word, plain text, PowerPoint files, RSS feeds, emails and web pages, and converts them to speech automatically.
- YakiToMe – Free Online Text to Speech (Requires registration). Supports import from Text, File (DOC, PDF & TXT), RSS & Email
- Vozme.com – Free Online Text to Speech (Male & Female). Supports various languages
- Zamzar – Use URL or upload file and convert to audio (Premium options available)
- iSpeech.org – Has Basic (Free), Premium & Plus Plans
- Odiogo – Transforms sites & blogs into audio formats (Free)
- Talkr – Converts text-only blogs into Podcasts (Free)
- Visual Impaired Document Creator – Free
- TextAloud – Windows (Free Trial available, Purchase $29.95)
- Natural Readers – Free & Commercial versions available
- Ispeech – Commercial
- Hearwho – Free & Commercial versions available
- Text to Audio File 1.1 – Mac
- CoolSpeech & TextSound – Commercial
- Piston Text to Speech Converter – Commercial
- SpeakText – Commercial
- Alive Text to Speech – Commercial
- Text2Go – commercial
- Ivona.com – Commercial (Charges per character, starting from $0.02 / character)
An awesome list of podcast directories compiled by Podcast411.com can be found here. At the time of posting, there are 161 available sites within the list, which allows you to access to frequently updated podcasts from various sites within each directory. Click here for Podcast411’s list of podcast directories.
Flash & Accessibility
Flash is by no means a new technology as it has been part of the web for quite some time. Perhaps it’s not too far to say that Flash is one of the main contributor to our overall internet experience today. Being a robust platform, it could actually compliment or enhance the already existing text and image oriented areas of the Internet with more interactive elements such as audios and videos. For more information on this topic, here are a few sites which cover it extensively …
- Niquimerret.com – Accessibility in Flash bug and issue list
- Evolt.org – Stephen Hawking and Me – Flash MX Accessibility
- NNGroup.com – Accessibility and Usability of Flash for Users with Disabilities. A PDF report is also available on this site, check it out.
- Panix.com – Accessible Ebooks, Etexts and Textbooks
- TBChad.com – Accessibility References and Resources
- AlistAPart.com – Accessibility, Web Standards, and Authoring Tools
- The Open & Closed Project – Uniting global knowledge of accessible media
And finally but not least, some ebooks on Accessibility