Technology Solutions for Vision Challenges
Do you have trouble seeing the cursor on the computer screen or difficulty reading e-mails? Is it hard for you to read the menu at restaurants? Visual challenges can make using a computer difficult, but there are several types of accessible technology designed to help. Vision-related MS symptoms may be addressable with the accessible technologies listed below.
Free Adjustments to your Computer
Most operating systems are already equipped with several features that can make your screen easier to see and read. Operating system modifications can make the mouse pointer larger, slow the blinking speed of the cursor and change the font size on your desktop. These features are included in your operating system at no additional cost.
- Windows 7, Windows Vista and XP offer tutorials that provide step by step instructions for adjusting the accessibility settings and programs.
- Internet explorer offers several accessibility settings that can make your Web browser easier to see.
- Zoom allows you to "zoom in" to get a close-up view of your document.
- Mac OS X includes many features to assist you if you have a vision disability, including a built-in screen reader, voice commands, screen magnification and high-contrast settings.
Screen magnifiers work like a magnifying glass for the computer by enlarging a portion of the screen which can increase legibility and make it easier to see items on the computer.
- ZoomText Magnifier enlarges and enhances everything on your computer screen, making all of your applications easy to see and use.
- Supernova offers screen magnification, speech and Braille support, allowing you to use Windows applications, the Internet and email easily. The computer display is magnified so that you can see small detail more clearly and information is also presented in Braille for users of the many supported Braille devices.
- MAGic is a powerful magnification solution for low vision computer users. Get started quickly with large-print installation. All MAGic editions come with a talking installation.
Screen readers are used to verbalize, or "speak," everything on the screen including text, graphics, control buttons, and menus into a computerized voice that is spoken aloud. Click here for a list of screen readers.
- JAWS® for Windows works with your PC to take information from the screen and read it aloud, providing technology to access a wide variety of information, education and job related applications. JAWS also outputs to refreshable Braille displays.
- Window-Eyes is a powerful screen reader giving you total control over what you hear and how you hear it. Plus, with its enhanced Braille support that control is extended to what you feel as well.
- Hal is a screen reading program for people with low vision that converts on-screen display, including graphic objects labeling, to speech. Using a speech synthesizer for more than a half-dozen languages, User-defined hot keys make Hal a very easy program to work with. For those with a Braille display, one can choose to have output grade 1 and 2 Braille right to their display.
Hand-Held Magnification Devices
Closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras are used to take a picture of printed material, handwritten information, diagrams, and other "hard" copies and display the information on a screen.
- Quicklook Zoom magnifies items on its LCD wide screen display, allowing you to select the brightness, positive black/white, or reverse image display. With Quicklook Zoom, you can read the menu in a restaurant, labeling on prescription bottles, recipes in the kitchen, review mail order catalogs and the TV program listings.
- Compact video magnifiers fit into your coat pocket or purse, and are light weight. Display quality high contrast images.
- The Jordy enables people with low vision to see objects at a distance, up close and at any range in between. This battery operated system can be worn like a pair of glasses or used as a desktop CCTV when placed on its docking stand.
- knfbReader Mobile runs on a multifunction cell phone and allows the user to read mail, receipts, handouts and many other documents wherever the user happens to be. This is a truly pocket-sized solution to reading on the go. The knfbReader Mobile software has a feature set designed for blind or low vision users.
Scanners can convert typewritten material into computer images. Once material has been scanned, it can be manipulated for screen magnification, read by a screen reader, or even prepared for Braille production. Refreshable Braille displays take information from the computer screen and mechanically lift small rounded plastic or metal pins as needed to form Braille characters. The user reads the Braille letters with his or her fingers, and then, after a line is read, can refresh the display to read the next line. Click here for a list of vision hardware.
- ALVA BC640 is a portable Braille display that can connect to any modern PC and provide immediate Windows access. The BC640 is equipped with Bluetooth for a liberating, wireless connection to your computer or cellular phone.
- TOPAZ is a personal low vision center - powerful yet so easy to use - and an invaluable reading aid for those with a degree of vision loss. The unit contains an LCD monitor and tray, on which you can place any item and view a magnification from 3 times to up to 82 times the actual size.
The following organizations specialize in visual challenges and can provide further assistance and information: