I had fun yesterday following the argument on a WhatsApp group chat, ďaccessibility 360Ē regarding JAWS and NVDA screen reader. The pastor of JAWS mounted the pulpit for his homily while the NVDA gospellers were winning souls for the popular screen reader. Then, I reminisced over my computer journey with screen readers. Iím opportune to use different screen readers due to my pocket, literacy level, job, exploration and association. I want to tell you that the experiences are not the same; and I wish to share these with this post, hoping it will bring back your memory of the use of any of the screen readers.
Screen reader is a piece of software that relays the screen content to its user. It reads aloud the items and information displayed on the screen. The use of screen reader is so much imperative to individuals with visual impairment in the world of information and communication technology. Itís being recognized as their tool to exert immense leverage technologically and otherwise. Over the years, it has been their savior and helper which liberated them from the impediment imposed on them by impairment. Gone are those days you beg a sighted to help with sms on your mobile phone or chat a girlfriend up on Yahoo Messenger. Your independence, privacy, confidence, efficiency and productivity is daily seen via the handling of your gadgets.
Do you remember Narrator on Windows XP and its horrible sound? This is the first screen reader I have to put up with on my Zinox laptop computer because I had no money to obtain the JAWS license or pay someone to install the cracked for me. The Narrator is a screen reader built into Windows operating system by Microsoft. During my earlier days in computer, this Narrator can only read menu and programme icons on my PC. Its inability to read text made computer experience meh. Nothing like surfing the internet or exploring other areas of computer skills. However, the screen reader have evolved over the years alongside updates of the Microsoft Office Windows. It works with todayís Microsoft Office products, like Edge, Word, Mail, Contact, etc. you can interact with controls in Windows, read text, browse the internet and identify things on the computer screen. Download the manual on using Narrator on Windows10 here.
Thunder was my second screen reader. It was developed by Webbie. This is the first free screen reader serving as an alternative to the commercial ones. A big thanks to my friend Razaq Simon for the download. Itís a bit better than Narrator back in the days because it read text besides menu, dialog boxes, programme icons and other things on the screen; nevertheless, it shared the same sound with the Narrator. Its limitation looms in the World Wide Web environment. It functioned maximally with webbie and the earlier version of Internet Explorer web browser but FireFox was no go area. Thunder becomes deaf-blind whenever you open the Mozilla web browser. Until its extinction in 2006, there was no any significant improvement in the software. The copy of the screen reader is available on Webbie website should you want to check it.
Job access with speech (JAWS) was the third screen reader I ever installed on my PC. It is developed by Freedom Scientist. This is very prominent among computer users with blindness and low vision. It is very effective in accessing information both online and offline. JAWS works perfectly well with Windows, Microsoft Office Suite products, Google products, internet and todayís popular software, besides other interesting features, like tandom, text analyzer, place marker, just to mention few. It also allows customization for improved functionality with different apps through inbuilt settings and JAWS scripts. The recent version of JAWS has OCR feature that helps with reading of pdf files, capturing windows content and image description. Visit our resources page to download different materials to boost your computer experience with JAWS. Moreover, the painful thing is that JAWS license is expensive to acquire; even its cracked version also at a point in Nigeria because the gurus and privileged among us concealed this trick from us and exploit many. Some noobis even bought the JAWS demo at a high cost from these class of men.
I was managing my free JAWS demo until I came across Window-Eye. It was developed by GW Macro. Statistics shows that itís the third widely used screen reader. It is also a powerful screen reader like the jaws screen reader. It has some great features which allows its users to do a whole of things which are impossible without sight such as text formatting, checking font, text and background colour, chat room and forum engagement, coding, online business and so on. I was only lucky to use it for about two weeks because its demo permits 30 minutes use after which a system reboot is required to use it again; whereas, my JAWS demo would last for 40 minutes before requiring a system restart. Thus, the Window-Eye is currently free for users of genuinely licensed Microsoft Windows.
The SuperNova screen reader otherwise called Hal also made its mark in my computer journey. It was developed by Dolphin Computer Access Ltd. Itís in the class of powerful and effective screen readers Iíve ever used in life. It has many nice feature that makes computer experience interesting and enjoyable. As of the time we knew only eloquence synthesizer with JAWS, SuperNova was having real human voices built into the application. It does everything both JAWS and Window-Eye do during this age. I fell in love with the demo I downloaded because it doesnít timeout like the afore mentioned screen readers but something dashed my pleasure later:
ďit expired after 30 daysĒ;
and the worse thing was that I cannot reinstalled it. The available option then was to purchase a license which was very costly for a poor student in a developing African country like me. Then, a friend came my way and installed a copy of cracked JAWS for me at a reasonable amount of money.
System Access by Serotek. cross my path at a point but I never used it beyond two days. I seemed not to understand anything within the application. It has a nice sound compare to Narrator and Thunder. It was installed on the computer system donated to the special school where I had my rehabilitation. Everyone told me that the screen reader is useless and render the computers unusable for the learners.
The None Visual Desktop Access (NVDA) by NVAccess became my primary screen reader on March, 2019. The screen reader is turning me on with its amazing features. It works with popular software programmes available in the market today. It gives detailed information of things on the computer screen such as prompts, dialogue boxes, programme icons, text and much more, as well as interact with different elements on the computer. Itís light and full with pretty functionalities on the internet. It also a lot the user to customize it for sweet experience through inbuilt settings and NVDA add-ons. The most intriguing part of it is that it is completely free of charge. Do watch out for articles on my experience with NVDA.
Please, mention any of these screen reader you have used in the comment box. You may also share your own experience with us. If you did use a different screen reader, please, comment as well.
Time Uploaded: 07 Aug 2020 @ 23:32:19
Author: Olufemi S. A. Bayode