6 best screen readers for the blind or visually impaired people

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Nowadays technologies are improving daily and do not forget those who have disabilities.[1] Thus, blind and visually impaired people can choose from many tools that help to read the latest news, work and use a computer the same way as regular computer users. Screen reading software typically offers braille display[2] or reads texts out loud. However, if you imagine the terrible robot’s voice reading your favorite e-book, you should forget this horrible idea. The majority of screen readers offer naturally-sounding voice. Below there’s a list of six best tools that help to improve life for blind or visually impaired people.

Technology helps blind and visually impaired people to use computers.

NonVisual Desktop Access – one of the most popular free screen readers

NonVisual Desktop Access download page.

The main advantage of the application is that it can read the text out loud or convert it into braille without charging users.[4] Therefore, people can either listen to the computerized voice or read via braille display all the latest news or e-books.

The free NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA) app also helps to send emails, messaging and using social media websites easier. Additionally, it helps to shop online or perform other daily activities, such as using paying bills using an online bank.

The program is compatible with all Windows versions from Windows XP to Windows 10. Besides, it does not take a lot of storage space and is free to use. Thus, trying it is a must!

ZoomText – offers a free trial version

ZoomText official website.

ZoomText[5] by Ai Squared is a paid screen reading software that has three different versions and offers a free trial. Thus, it’s a great option to try this tool before buying a quite expensive license.

The tool is perfect for visually impaired people because it supports crystal clear magnification from 1.25x to 60x. Additionally, it allows changing the colors of the texts, contrast and making other customizations. ZoomText also supports reading out loud feature.

The three versions of the program offer different features and prices:

  • ZoomText Magnifier. Increases the size of the text and other objects on the screen without reducing its quality. The program costs $400.
  • ZoomText Magnifier/Reader. Has the same features as Magnifier version, but includes reading the text feature. The price – $600.
  • ZoomText Fusion. It operates as a full-screen reading software and includes features of previously mentioned version. It is available for $1.200.

Job Access with Speech – the most popular screen reader in 2015

The official site of Job Access with Speech.

Job Access with Speech (JAWS) is developed by Freedom Scientific and distributed by The Chicago Lighthouse was the most popular screen reader in 2015. The research says[3] that 30.2% of users used it as the primary reader.

The program is compatible with all Windows versions of Windows Vista. The program allows browsing the web, reading text out loud (needs Windows compatible sound card), processing words and other features.

However, the program is not for free. Users have to choose between these versions:

  • Home edition for $900 (available for non-commercial use);
  • Professional edition for $1100 (available for commercial use).

Despite the quite high price, users are offered a 30 day period to get back their money if they did not like the program. Additionally, customers are given 90 days warranty if there were some manufacturing defects.

COBRA – screen reader for Windows XP, 7, 8 and 10 users

Official download website of COBRA.

One of the biggest advantages of COBRA screen reading software is that it allows modifying and personalizing computer’s desktop for their needs. Thus, it helps to improve work with Windows computer by offering simple user interface.

The screen reading software supports speech and braille, as well as magnification for output. Instead of robot’s voice, this app offers a natural-sounding voice to read texts, e-books, and other content.

The program has three versions that offer free updates up to 4 years:

  • COBRA Zoom for $649;
  • COBRA Braille for $749;
  • COBRA Pro for $849.

System Access supports Skype, Adobe Reader, and many other popular apps

The official download website of System Access screen reader.

Developers of the screen reading software, Serotek Corporation, offers an affordable program. Compared to previously mentioned applications, this one costs $399 (or $499 if you purchase System Access Mobile version of the program).

Apart from price, the biggest advantage of the program is that it supports popular applications, including Skype, Outlook Express, Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, and more. Thus, it undoubtedly impacts the usage of the computer for blind or visually impaired people.

Additionally, the program offers free software upgrades and technical support to make sure that customers can get the best of the reader.

Dolphin Screen Reader offers to get single user and multiple-user licenses

The screenshot of Dolphin Screen Reader download website.

Some users might now this screen reader under the different name – SuperNova Screen Reader. However, Dolphin Screen Reader is the same popular program by Dolphin Computer Access Inc. that offers many useful features, such as:

  • reading different types of texts in natural sounding voice;
  • easy navigation and usage of the program;
  • support for speech and braille;
  • compatibility with Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10;
  • frequent updates that are sent to the email.

The program is available for single users for $955. Meanwhile, the multi-user license costs $955 for the first user and $685 for other users. Thus, the latter option is great for organizations or companies.