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The Borovkoff Blog

Neo-Pagan Modern Thoughts On Society

A first front in the world of accessibility is enabling and empowering people with visual based disabilities. Computers have come a long way in the last few decades and accessibility has been dragged along with modern technology.

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Image of some desktop computers in a row.A first front in the world of accessibility is enabling and empowering people with visual based disabilities. Computers have come a long way in the last few decades and accessibility has been dragged along with modern technology.

People who are unable to read documents off the printed page or computer screen depend on two lines of defense:
1. A person who can act as a reader and read the document back word for word to the interested party.
2. An electronic piece of software, known as a screen reader that will read a document back in an electronic voice to the interested party.

So nearly everyone impacted must eventually learn to use a screen reader and put its practices into place on their own computer, because frankly most people will not want to sit and read a whole book to you at your own pace.

There are many types of screen readers, and I have experimented with many of them to be able to give you my opinion. Realize that not all documents can be read by a screen reader. The document must be made in an accessible format. We will deal with that facet of our challenge in coming posts.

The most common screen readers currently are listed on Wikipedia here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_screen_readers

Mostly I use JAWS to check documents for accessibility and readability by this type of software. If it fails to be read in JAWS, then it most likely will not be read by other software either. Screen readers can be expensive to get the most detailed version. Whenever possible though, download the FREE version and see if it works for you and if you like the sound of the voice. Many paid versions give you options for the sound of the voice reading material back to you. But most free versions do not.

I have to tell you that electronic voices have not progressed much and still for the most part sound robotic and with a bit of tin sounding vibration. They are disapointing and designers need to progress this type of technology in a greater fashion moving forward.

Also, screen readers are mainly difficult to use and figure out. They do not come naturally and need to be tweaked specifically for the individual reader’s preferences. Much needs to progress in the world of screen readers, including the rape of people with disabilities with the cost of full featured screen readers. HELLO MICROSOFT! Since the greater population of computer users are Window based users, then Windows needs to have a built-in, fully functioning, top of the line voice dictated, screen reader.

Screen readers should be free to everyone with all bells and whistles included. They are, after all, only a tool to encourage a greater audience to read various materials. And if the tool is too expensive then the population will not embrace the use of that tool on a day to day level.  In a failing world economy, the monopolizing of a needed tool that aids people with disabilities become greater consumers just does not make sense to me. If you want people to purchase your readable material then you need to provide people with a pleasant experience reading your over priced materials.  PLEASANT being the key word. Do not make screen readers function in excrutiating fashion, but make them more user friendly and enhance them with all of the pleasantries that will make reading a fun experience and one worth repeating again and again.

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