Accessible Technologies

Assistive Technology for Blind or Low Vision

What technology is preferred or needed depends on previous training or the type and amount of visual content that is being accessed.

Computer proficiency is expected for a variety of tasks, and by using adaptive software, such as screen-readers, which translate the contents of the screen into speech or refreshable braille while enabling the user to control the computer with keyboard commands or touch screen gestures, standard computers can be made much more accessible. Accessing books and other printed materials in accessible formats like doc, rtf or daisy also can be done using braille- related technology or magnifying equipment, some of which are portable.


Screen-reading Software
  • Uses synthetic speech to read aloud the content that appears on a computer
  • Compatible with most programs and features for PC operating
  • Available as an add-on for PCs running Linux or Windows, while Mac computers typically run a built-in screen-reading
  • Examples of screen-reading software include JAWS and Window Eyes for PC, Voice Over for Mac and Orca for certain distributions of
Magnification  Software
  • Works similarly to a high-powered magnifying glass moving over a
  • They can magnify all screen items by following the mouse cursor or
  • Compatible with most Windows operating systems. Mac computers have a built-in magnification
  • It is possible to use screen magnification software in conjunction with a screen reader for individuals who need both types of
  • Examples of screen-magnification programs include Zoom Text and


  • Some low-vision individuals might be able to benefit from larger monitors and internal features that enlarge font, increase contrast or otherwise modify computer
  • However, those features are not adequate for many low-vision Individuals and additional magnification software is
Dictation Software
  • These programs often utilize standard QWERTY keyboards, but other modified accessories can be used as
  • Individuals who are blind or have low vision usually learn to touch-type, but if a blind individual has an additional disability that affects typing proficiency, the individual may be interested in trying dictation
  • It will be important to research the compatibility of any dictation software with the screen reader of choice prior to making a
  • Writing Braille and Using Braille Embossers
  • Writing braille by hand with a slate and stylus is portable and most appropriate for shorter
  • Individuals can also type braille manually with Perkins braillewriters although they are not as
  • Can convert electronic text into a braille hard copy by sending computer files to a braille embosser, which is the braille equivalent to an ink
  • Braille embossers typically require heavyweight paper and utilize more pages than print.
  • Embossing contracted braille requires the use of a braille translation software Refreshable Braille Displays
  • Operates by raising and lowering combinations of pins to create braille
  • Allows individuals to both read and write braille quietly and save
  • Portable and are usually able to interface with a computer and/or connect to the internet.


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