Washington: Two blind computer programmers at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have developed a free, open-source program which provides a synthetic voice to read the words on a computer screen as the cursor moves over them.
Developed by James Teh and business partner Michael Curran , the NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access) allows a visually challenged person to use a computer just as a sighted person would.
"We really are in the information age - everything is online these days. So access to computers for the blind and vision impaired is incredibly important, which is why we wanted our software to be free," said Teh.
"It can also be copied to a USB stick, which can be used on any PC at school or university, with no installation required," he said.
Teh and Mr Curran have drawn on their own experience as blind computer users to develop a product.
For example, as the mouse moves up and down the screen, a small beeping sound becomes higher and lower in pitch to let you know where the cursor is located.
NVDA has been translated into 27 languages, thanks to volunteer translators.
Teh and Curran have plenty of future plans, including touch screen options for the blind and vision impaired. While keen to maintain the independence and integrity of their products, the pair`s continued success may depend on the availability of further funding.
First Published: Wednesday, October 06, 2010, 21:51