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What is Assistive Technology?

Assistive technology (AT) is any hardware or software designed to help a user compensate for areas of disability or impairment. AT gives individuals with disabilities the same access to information available to users who are not disabled. Screen magnifiers and screen readers are the two main types of AT used by people who are blind or visually impaired.

Screen-Magnification

Screen-magnification programs increase the size of text and images displayed on your PC’s monitor. Once you’ve loaded a screen-magnification program on your PC, this specialized software will interact with both your PC’s operating system and any applications you’re running. ZoomText Fusion (from Freedom Scientific) is a good screen-magnification program for people with vision loss. Windows Magnifier, which is built into computers running the Windows operating system, is a free option.

Screen-Reading

Screen-reading programs use a voice synthesizer to read aloud information displayed on your PC’s monitor. Once you’ve installed a screen-reading program on your PC, it will start each time you boot up your machine, interacting with your PC’s operating system as well as any applications you’re running. The two major screen-reading programs are JAWS® for Windows (from Freedom Scientific) and NVDA (a free, open-source option from NV Access). Windows Narrator, which is the built in option for the Windows operating system, is another free option,

Text-to-Speech

There are several great apps that will convert text to speech. Two of the most popular are KNFB Reader (available for Android and iOS) and the Seeing AI (available for iOS). The user simply takes a photo of the text and the app will read back the text to the user.

If you are looking for a desk-top system, using OpenBook software with a Pearl camera is a solid option.