Assistive Technology for Computers, Phones, & Printed Material

Kenneth S. Pope, Ph.D., ABPP

Links to Software & Hardware Resources for People with Disabilities;

PLEASE NOTE: I created this site to be fully accessible for people with disabilities; please follow this link to change text size, color, or contrast; please follow this link for other accessibility functions for those with visual, mobility, and other disabilities.

I gathered the descriptions and links in this section of the Accessibility & Disability web site to help people find assistive software and hardware for working with computers or printed materials.

Some of this assistive technology includes screen readers, talking web browsers, printed text readers, braille translators (text-to-braille and braille-to-text), screen magnifiers, special computer keyboards, and technology that allows control of a computer through head movements or eye movements. I've included a few legacy software programs for those who use older Windows or Mac operating systems.

P3 Mobile

P3 Mobile, available for iOs & Android, enables mobile phones to be used easily by people who are deaf or have hearing impairment.

Panopreter Text to Speech Software

"Using our screen reader software programs, you can not only listen to the natural-sounding human voice speech on the computer, but also convert written text into spoken audio files in wav and mp3 formats for listening later at your convenience.  Panopreter Plus reads any text aloud and reads files in formats of txt, rtf, doc, pdf and web pages. It also converts the text into wav and mp3 audio files, so you can later listen to the vocal speech with a portable mp3 player device. Furthermore, it reads text copied to clipboard from any other software window. It supports many languages and voices."

JAWS for Windows

JAWS--an acronym for "Jobs Access With Speech"--is the most widely-used screen-reader for windows-based machines. It uses a software speech synthesizer, "Eloquence for JAWS," that can pronounce American English, Brazilian Portuguese, British English, Castilian Spanish, Latin American Spanish, Finnish, French, German, and Italian.

Apple's Mac, iPhone, iPad, & iPod

"Edit a video without using a mouse or trackpad. Build a presentation without seeing the screen. Or track down important files for your next project with just your voice. Because Mac is designed for everybody to create amazing things."

Celery 2-Way Printing Mailbox for Seniors

"Send and receive email through without a computer or Internet access. Send handwritten email by writing a nickname at the top of a message. Press 'B' then 'C' and Celery converts it to email and sends it to the recipient. Receive printed email and image attachments in real-time, just like a fax. Share notes, photos, drawings by email when you can't use your computer."

Google Accessible Web Search for the Visually Impaired

Google search with an audio component.

WebAnyWhere

"WebAnywhere is a web-based screen reader for the web. It requires no special software to be installed on the client machine and, therefore, enables blind people to access the web from any computer they happen to have access to that has a sound card.... WebAnywhere will run on any machine, even heavily locked-down public terminals, regardless of what operating system it is running and regardless of what browsers are installed."

Orca

"Orca 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). The development of Orca has been led by the Accessibility Program Office of Sun Microsystems, Inc. with contributions from many community members."

Braillant

"This new generation of Brailliant braille displays features the excellent, sharp and crisp braille cell technology…. Light, compact, portable, yet sturdy and durable, this new display ergonomically fits in front of your laptop or desktop keyboard, and can be used with your preferred mobile devices….USB 2.0 and Bluetooth V2.1"

Vocal-Eyes AI App

"Our app uses a proprietary machine learning algorithm to help the blind identify objects in their daily lives. Use our simple UI to take a picture and listen to what the camera sees."

Books-To-Burn

Books-To-Burn is a text- to-speech file for making books on CD on an Apple computer. "Books2burn translates text files into a series of audio files (Apple AIFF format) which can then be converted to mp3's or other formats using programs like LAME, iTunes, or other tools available around the net. The program is released under the GNU GPL. Feel free to copy and modify the program."

Emacspeak Complete Audio Desktop--Bubbles, StarDog, LuckyDog, TweetDog, SocialDog, AbleDog, WorkDog, GoodDog, HappyDog, CleverDog, SmartDog, TopDog, YellowLab, Aster, WonderDog, BlackLab, BlackDog, Illinois, etc.

"Emacspeak provides complete eyes-free access to daily computing tasks. By providing fluent spoken access to local and remote electronic information, the system opens up the wealth of information available on the Internet to visually impaired users.... Emacspeak introduces several improvements and innovations when compared with screenreaders designed to allow blind users to interact with personal computers. Unlike screenreaders that speak the contents of a visual display, Emacspeak speaks the underlying information. As an example, using a calendar application with a screenreader results in the blind user hearing a sequence of meaningless numbers; In contrast, Emacspeak speaks the relevant date in an easy to comprehend manner. The system deploys the innovative technique of audio formatting to increase the band-width of aural communication; changes in voice characteristic and inflection combined with appropriate use of non-speech auditory icons are used throughout the user interface to create the equivalent of spatial layout, fonts, and graphical icons so important in the visual interface. This provides rich contextual feedback and shifts some of the burden of listening from the cognitive to the perceptual domain. Finally, Emacspeak like Linux is completely free; in contrast, commercially available screenreaders typically double the cost of a personal computer. These innovations have together resulted in the system significantly increasing the ability of visually impaired individuals throughout the world to more effectively use information technology for work and leisure."

Lynx 2.8.8

Lynx, perhaps the most popular text-mode browser, is free (under the GNU Public License).It works on diverse platforms including MacIntosh (MacLynx), Windows, DOS, UNIX, and VMS. It works especially well with voice-synthesizers and Braille-based technology.

Proloquo 2.0 with speech to iPod-ready iTunes tracks and quick voice access

"Proloquo is a multilingual speech and communication solution for Mac OS X that provides: (1) a full-fledged communication system (AAC) for people who cannot speak; (2) provides speech feedback in any application while typing for children and people with learning disabilities; (3) can serve as a talking word processor; (4) provides an advanced, multilingual speech engine for our KeyStrokes® on-screen keyboard and our SwitchXS® switch access solution."

Easy Web Browsing

"Easy Web Browsing is software that helps people who have some types of vision impairments to access Web sites more comfortably."

MozBraille

"MozBraille is an extension to transform Mozilla or Firefox to a stand alone accessible Internet browser designed for blind or partially sighted users . So with mozBraille you don't need a third part program like a screenreader. MozBraille offers its users three displays or outputs: A Braille output on a braille terminal, A text to speech output, A big characters view."

Speakup for Linux Operating System

Speakup works with the Gnu/Linux operating system and provides access to all console programs in the operating system, and is compatible with Lynx, Pine, and similar applications.

Dolphin Screen Reader

"Speech and braille access for Windows. ScreenReader provides a fast, robust and reliable solution for accessing modern software applications. Take advantage of comprehensive support for the latest Microsoft Office packages, the newest web browsers and a huge array of other popular programs. Clear human-sounding speech is backed up with the option to connect a refreshable braille display. Take control of what is read back to you with an exhaustive range of options, allowing you to fine-tune it to your exact requirements."

EIA Web Browser

EAI (Enhancing Internet Access) is a "specialized Web Browser, suitable for touchscreen systems, with fully integrated Web awareness, assessment and training modules."

SuperNova Screen Magnifier & Speech

"Browsing the web, emailing your contacts or reading your print letters is all effortless with your perfect combination of magnification, colours and speech. If you have a bad eye day or your sight changes, SuperNova Magnifier & Speech grows and evolves with you: Boost magnification, announce punctuation, replace difficult colours, hear webpages or listen as you type. Choose the Magnifier & Screen Reader edition and be assured that SuperNova can grow with you and your sight."

The Magnifier

The Magnifier is software that provides an "Area Screen Magnifier for Windows 3.x, 95, 98, NT, Windows 2000, & Vista. The software supports 2 times through 10 times magnification, may be sized as needed or positioned anywhere on screen, and has several features such as Auto-Position. . ."

ZoomText

Level 1 provides 2x to 16x magnification. Level 2 provides synchronized magnification and screen reading. ZoomText works with Windows Vista, XP, ME, 2000, NT4, 98 and 95.There is also a version for DOS.

Kurzweil 1000

The Kurzweil 1000 is a system for scanning books and other printed material into a computer and then speaking it aloud through a synthesizer. Operating System: Windows 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 (except USB version)

OpenBook

"OpenBook converts printed documents or graphic-based text into an electronic text format on your PC, using high-quality speech and the latest optical character recognition (OCR) technology. OpenBook is innovative software designed to enhance success for people who are blind or have low vision who need access to printed and electronic materials."

i-Scan

This document reader includes a DEC talk Voice, an OCR reader, a flat bed scanner, a computer, and a screen reader.

Poet Compact 2 Reading Machine

"This slender all-in-one reading machine can read any kind of printed matter with just the press of a button... The controls are self-explanatory, in tactile shapes and have sensible pressing feedback as well as touch tones.... Clear accurate speech - Pleasing human-like inflection - 2 speech languages included (Multiple languages available separately)... The Poet Compact 2 is a basic, easy-to-use model with only 2 buttons. With the first button it scans and recognizes texts quickly with a high-quality speech output. The second button is the pause button that stops and starts the speech immediately. The control knobs are used to adjust the volume and reading speed to your preference even when Poet is running. All controls are located in an aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly position on the front panel."

SARA CE- Scanning & Reading Appliance

"SARA CE is the next-generation self-contained scanning and reading appliance for people who are blind or have low vision. It is simple to use, and quickly converts printed text to spoken text. No computer experience is needed. Read your documents without the need for sighted assistance."

Click-N-Type Virtual Keyboard version 3.03.415

Click-N-Type is free software that works with windows and DOS applications. It shows a virtual keyboard on the screen for those people who cannot type on a computer's physical keyboard. Virtual Keyboard is a 32 bit application that requires Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP/Vista/Win-7 or later.

KeyStrokes 4 for the Mac

"KeyStrokes is a fully-functional advanced virtual on-screen keyboard that allows you to type with a mouse, trackball, head pointer or other mouse emulator to type characters into any standard Macintosh application. KeyStrokes provides advanced multilingual word prediction. ...it can do word completion, next word prediction and even multi-word prediction in any Roman language as well as many other languages....It can be used with a keyboard, mouse, trackball, head pointer, touch screen, or other mouse emulator. For those who can position the pointer, but not click the mouse buttons, the integrated Dwellix™ system-wide dwell-based utility allows mouse button clicks to be entered by simply holding the cursor motionless for a programmable period of time. You can even type without clicking."

Dasher

"Dasher is an input method and computer accessibility tool which enables users to compose text without using a keyboard, by entering text on a screen with a pointing device such as a mouse, touch screen, or mice operated by the foot or head. Such instruments could serve as prosthetic devices for disabled people who cannot use standard keyboards, or where the use of one is impractical.[2][3] Dasher is free and open-source software, subject to the requirements of the GNU General Public License (GPL), version 2. Dasher is available for operating systems with GTK+ support, i.e. Linux, BSDs and other Unix-like including macOS, Microsoft Windows, Pocket PC, iOS and Android.[4][5][6]"

BigKeys

BigKeys LX and BigKeys Plus have keys that are 4 times as large as the typical keyboard. They work with both PCs and Macs.

VirtualKeyboard

"VirtualKeyboard is an on-screen keyboard that offers point-and-click typing using pointing devices such as a head pointer, mouse, trackball, etc. This program is designed primarily for disabled person but it can be used also to teach the children to write, to prepare kiosk environments, etc. To use VirtualKeyboard simply click on the keys on the on-screen keyboard, each keypress will be sent to the active or front-most application. As with a real keyboard, to get uppercase characters you click Shift first, or to type in all uppercase, click Lock. Similarly, the other qualifier keys work as expected, they even work outside of VirtualKeyboard."

SmartNav

"SmartNAV is the perfect hands free ergonomic mouse for people with carpal tunnel, RSI and disabilities. Increase productivity by simply moving your head to control your computer with our ergonomic mouse alternative."

Eyegaze Edge

"The Eyegaze Edge®–The world's most advanced eye-driven tablet communication system."

Speech Case with iPad

"2019 CES Winner We are honored to be recognized as a Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019 Innovation Awards Honoree in the "Tech For A Better World" product category for Speech Case with iPad! This category recognizes products that impact the world in a positive way. iOS users - experience AAC the Tobii Dynavox way. The Tobii Dynavox Speech Case with iPad and Speech Case Pro with iPad Pro are iOS-based speech tablets designed for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). Equipped with extra loud speakers, Snap + Core First communication app, 1-year telephone support, and more - the Speech Case with iPad provides a true communication solution for iOS users.."

VisionKey

"VisionKey combines a viewer mounted on a pair of standard frames with a small control unit. An eye tracker and a microcomputer measure the position of the eye and when a selection is made, it appears on the control unit LCD and on the computer. Users look at a specific word, letter or character on the chart in front of their eye and "type" by holding their gaze until a selection is confirmed by a green highlight and a beep."

Assistive Mouse Adapter AMAneo

"The Assistive Mouse Adapter AMAneo helps people with hand tremors control a computer mouse more easily by filtering out shaky hand movements. AMAneo filters electronically the trembling of hand, which can also be very strong, so that the mouse pointer on the display moves smoothly anyway. Just plug this device into any PC or Notebook for smoother control. It can be adjusted to compensate tremors of varying intensities. A dwell function is integrated as well as a movement stop while clicking."

SwitchXS

"SwitchXS provides virtually complete access to Mac OS X and all standard Mac applications for people who can only use one or more switches. It offers full mouse and keyboard emulation by means of a so-called scanning mode. With each click on the switch the user selects an action, such as 'move the cursor up' or 'type B', from a 'scanning' menu. SwitchXS is typically used by people who are, for example, quadriplegic due to an accident, or living with neuromotor diseases such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) with very limited limb movement.'

Quadjoy Mouth-Controlled Computer Mouse

"QuadJoy is a hands free, mouth operated joystick computer mouse designed specifically for individuals with disabled hand movement. The vision for QuadJoy is a device that grants new freedom for the paralyzed and disabled who feel restricted to constantly rely on others. Its simple Sip & Puff system is easy to use, allowing for efficient device operation. QuadJoy allows you to quickly control your Windows or Mac computer and your Android mobile smartphone or tablet using Bluetooth"

HeadMouse

'HeadMouse® Nano provides precise and efficient head-controlled access to computers, tablets, smartphones and speech generating devices for people who have limited or no use of their hands. HeadMouse allows you to control the mouse pointer by tracking your head movement. HeadMouse Nano connects via USB and uses standard mouse drivers. HeadMouse works with Windows, macOS and Linux computers, and Android phones and tablets."

TrackerPro

"TrackerPro is a computer input device that takes the place of a mouse for people with little or no hand movement. Simply plug it in and it works just like a mouse (no additional software required). Anything that can be done with a regular hand mouse can be done by using TrackPro (in conjunction with one of many clicking solutions)."

Skipper

As the web site describes in much more detail, "Skipper is a powerful accessibility package for Linux which enables severely physically disabled people with many different conditions to make full use of applications that normally require good mouse and keyboard control."

 

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