What is a screen reader?
In most cases a screen reading package runs as a third-party application on an operating system (OS) such as Microsoft Windows. Screen readers can also be built into the OS, for example, Narrator. In the case of ChromeVox for Google Chrome, it is run as an extension in the browser. These packages communicate with the OS on a low level as to translate screen output in two ways:
- Via synthetic speech output to a computer's sound card;
- Braille output via a USB or Bluetooth connected refreshable Braille display.
Screen reading software enables people with a visual impairment to follow careers as, amongst others:
- software developers;
- database administrators;
- social workers;
- web developers;
- personal assistants;
- call centre agents.
- study online or in a classroom setting;
- bank online;
- research on the internet;
- shop online;
- use e-mail applications;
- do word processing;
- manage spreadsheets;
- read digital books;
- participate in social networks.
- maintain calendars and reminders
Windows screen reader packages
The table below lists seven screen reading packages available on the Windows platform, with a description quoted from their respective websites.
|NAME||DEVELOPER||DESCRIPTION||FREE / PAID||SOURCE|
(Non Visual Desktop Access)
NVDA provides the key to education and employment for many blind people. It also provides access to social networking, online shopping, banking and news.
(Job Access With Speech)
JAWS, Job Access With Speech, is the world's most popular screen reader, developed for computer users whose vision loss prevents them from seeing screen content or navigating with a mouse. JAWS provides speech and Braille output for the most popular computer applications on your PC.
(40 minute demo per session available)
|SuperNova||Dolphin Computer Access||
SuperNova Magnifier's crystal clear magnification and a complete screen reader delivering unparalleled access to Windows
(30 minute demo per session available)
At home, in school, and on the job, System Access is your key to popular applications.
(14 day trial available)
|Download System Access|
AIR Foundation: Accessibility is a Right
(internet access required)
|Open SA2Go page|
ChromeVox helps you navigate websites while your desktop screen reader navigates the rest of the Chrome interface.
(only works inside Google Chrome browser)
|Install ChromeVox extension from the Chrome web store)|
Narrator is a screen reader utility included in Microsoft Windows
|Free||Built-in on Windows OS|