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Software for the blind

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Floorist

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Anyone know anything about a software that makes a computer usable for the blind?
 

Nick

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For those with impaired vision (95% of legally blind have some vision) take a look (no pun intended) at ZoomText Magnifier/Reader by AiSquared.com That's what I use. There is a trial version.



AiSquared also has a Windows-based document reader - a HD webcam on a gooseneck arm - place document on platform and it OCRs the image and reads it to you. I think the cost is about $200 or so. I don't have/use. Before that you only had CATV units at about $1,500 that just blew it up onto a large B&W monitor. My local library has a Kurzweil machine that has been in a crate for several years - old technology.



I only know one totally blind person - he uses JAWS which lets you run Windows completely via keyboard. He was still using Windows XP, it suits his needs.



Some states have agencies that will provide the software free. Connecticut has BESB - Board of Education and Services for the Blind. They provided my ZoomText license years agofor free as part of a group license. It was sufficient to let me keep my consulting practice going until I decided that I could comforaably retire. I still use it, I wouldn't be on this board if I didn't have it. This was back in the Windows XP days. They retained title, and the contract was that after 5 years it became mine. I then paid for the upgrade to get a version that works with Windows 7. They now have a version that works with Windows 8, I will hold out but perhaps go to Windows 1 when it comes out next year. Maybe. Maybe not, have to see if there is an compelling reason to go to Windows 1.



ZoomText has various versions - with/without magnifier etc. To me the most useful components are the pointer enhancements. It gives me crosshairs that intersect at the mouse pointer and it gives me wedges above and below the insertion bar cursor when edition. I have a very narrow field of view, require high contrast and am partially color blind. Broni put up a color scheme that works well for me. (Thank you again, Broni!) I think the full ZoomText product is about $700 list. JAWS for XP was about $1,400 last I looked, maybe 5 years ago..



Other MAJOR thing to know about is the National Library Service, an operation of the Library of Congress.

www.loc.gov/nls/



They provide FREE access to digital audio books. HUGE catalog. You may order cartridges (no postage required either direction, envelope is 'franked') to get the USB stick (60 day return) that goes into a special player. OR you may download to your own USB stick and put it in the player. The stick must be no thicker than 3/8". I use the house-brand sticks from www.microcenter.com I have several 4GB sticks - they typically hold 30+ novels. Each state has at least one designated library that provides services. Before they went digital they used audio cassette tapes. A book such as "Team of Rivals" had 10 tapes - mono so you got 4 passes against each tape. The player was about the size of a lunch box and had about 30 hours battery life. The digital player's footprint is about that of a typical hard cover book, but maybe twice as thick. All of the controls have different shapes and colors, you can operate by feel very easily. If there is no cartridge in it pressing a control button tells you what it does. I often wake about 4AM and listen to books using ear-covering headphones, can operate without disturbing my wife - or the cat.



The downloaded audio files are in a ZIP, they have to be unpacked. The unpacked files are encrypted, they require special player.



NLS now has 'apps' for iPad, probably Android etc. that let you get the audio books.



If you download then there is no requirement to return, the files don't expire. There are also about two dozen magazines available - U.S. News & World Report, Smithsonian, Discovery, Ebony, Consumer Reports, The Econimist. ( SmartComputing until they discontinued ) Note: They read the grids in Consumer Reports - it takes FOREVER. Because they are digital you can change the playback speed without getting the "Alivin and the Chpmonks" effect. I play back at about 1.75x and it is understandable. New books take about 6 months to show up, unless the purblisher releases their own audio book.



To qualify for NLS service you have to get form filled out by medical professional - nurse, doctor, optomitrist, social worker, even some librarians. Details at the site listed.
 

Floorist

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My stepson is totally blind. He gets audio books from somewhere now, but not sure where.
 

Floorist

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Missouri cut off his blind pension, they have for a lot of people, so money is scarce right now. Maybe after the new year we can figure out something.
 
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hey ! I have been using crmrunner.com for all my software based work for few years . they are really good at this . so i recommend them they are the best and their prices are affordable .
 

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