The screen reader wars – My take

The screen reader wars my take.

With the  announcement  of GwMicro   making Window-eyes   free to users of Microsoft 2010/2013 as well as anyone with an office 365 account the blind community  has never had so much choice when it comes to screen reader access.  

As far as I’m concerned this is the end of JAWS once and for all. Paying $1500 to access ones computer is simply absurd.

I personally think the Mac is the way to go. But if you need to use Windows for business/education NVDA is the screen reader to go with. Here’s just some of the reasons:

  1. It’s free.  none of the other solutions are free. For  Window-eyes  you need a copy of Microsoft  2010/2013 or the aforementioned 365 account.
  2. It’s updated constantly.
  3. It’s portable. Something that can’t be said of both JAWS or Window-eyes.

I’d like to point you to the following article:linkedin – My Thoughts on GW Micro

In the article the author    says that  NVDA is only fit for basic use. This is far from the truth NVDA has excellent support for the open office standard, works brilliantly with firefox and is specially important to those who are in education.

He does have a point when it comes to the business market however. N V Access needs to address this  short coming for their corporate users.

The summary is that NVDA is still the best and only truly free screen reader making a difference at the moment.

It will be interesting to see what Freedom Scienttific do with JAWS.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Get  in contact.

The 32 cell question – Reviewing the Brailliant braille display from HumanWare

I’m not a fan of specialised technology usually.

There generally way over priced for what they do and with the popularity of Smartphones and tablets either running Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS blind people have more access to information at a fraction of what traditional access solutions cost.

As good as all these options are sometimes we forget about braille access and how vital it is for a blind person in today’s rapidly changing world.

Speaking personally braille has played an intricate part in my life. It has made me a more confident player both inside and outside my community not to mention reaching my goals as a young man.

Braille devices have dropped in price but the majority of them are still astronomically expensive for the average blind individual.

Enter the Brailliant braille  from HumanWare.

This sleek display comes in either your choice of 32 cells, 40 cells, or 80 cells.

Design:

The Brailliant is a wonderfully crafted piece of equipment. Made out of high quality aluminium and with a brushed silver finish it’s definitely a headturner.

HumanWare’s iconic thumb keys grace the front of the device. If you’ve spent time with the brailleNote line of products you know what to expect. Suffice it to say it’s a dream to use.

At either end of the display you have 6 vertical keys these keys correspond to the 6 dots of braille. For example press dots 1 and 3 to bring up the search box in Windows 7 if your using JAWS as your screen reader.

Please note: these  commands very between screen readers consult your screen readers help system.

Setup and configuration:

It was a breeze to use the display with JFW on my Mac running Windows via VMware. If your running Window-eyes  version 7.0 or later the drivers are automatically installed.

On the Mac it’s truley plug and play support as the drivers are included with Mountain lion.

I really enjoyed the chrisp braille cells and the equally responsive braille keyboard. Being able to use all most any mobile device including the iPhone is a fantastic bonus.

Technical support and wrapup:

Tech support is provided via HumanWare’s website, the user guide, or phone support.

I have found Miss Ramona Mandy senior blindness product consultant to be excellent when it comes to matters of support.

For International customers call: 18007223393 or visit humanware’s support website.  

In summary HumanWare has produced another piece of great hardware perfictly blending price and functionality.

Rating:

5 stars Excellent.

Where to buy?

Humanware 

Price as reviewed:

AU$2750 32 cell, AU2950 40 cell.