Washington: Two blind programmers
have developed a free screen reader technology, an innovation which they claim could make computers more accessible for the
James Teh of Queensland University of Technology and his colleague Michael Curran have developed the free, open -source program, called NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA), which provides a synthetic voice to read words on a computer screen
as the cursor moves over them.
NVDA has been translated into 27 languages, thanks to volunteer translators.
Teh said: "A sighted person takes for granted that they can sit down at any computer and use it. We really are in the information age, everything`s 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."
According to Teh, blind students typically didn`t have the funds to purchase screen reader technology, at the time in their life when they most needed it. Now, NVDA could well be
downloaded on to anyone`s personal computer free of charge.
"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 Curran have drawn on their own experience as blind computer users to develop a product which has some unique and innovative features. For example, as 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.
They have plenty of future plans, including touch screen options for the blind and vision impaired.