Accessibility and Assistive Technology

Computer Accesibility

What is computer accesibility?

This term refers to the accessibility of a computer system to all people, regardless of disability or severity of impairment. It is largely a software concern; when software, hardware, or a combination of both, is used to enable use of a computer by a person with a disability or impairment, this is known as Assistive Technology.

For individuals with mild to medium vision impairment, it is helpful to use large fonts, high DPI displays, high-contrast themes and icons supplemented with auditory feedback and screen magnifying software.

In the case of severe vision impairment such as blindness, screen reader software that provides feedback via text-to-speech or a refreshable braille display is a necessary accommodation for interaction with a computer.

Assistive Technology Software

Vinux is a Linux distribution which has been specially designed for blind and partially sighted users.
It is a remastered version of the Ubuntu distribution and provides users with two screen-readers, two full-screen magnifiers, global font-size and colour changing facilities. The system also supports USB braille displays.
It can be run from a Live CD without making any changes to your hard drive

Requirements for Vinux main Edition:

  • 1 GHz x86 processor.
  • 1 Gb of system memory (RAM).
  • 15 GB of hard-drive space (although this can be split onto 2 drives, a 5Gb / and a 10Gb /home partition fairly easily).
  • Graphics card and monitor capable of 1024 by 768 resolution.
  • Either a Cd/Dvd-drive or a Usb socket (or both).
  • Internet access is helpful though not vital.

Requirements for Vinux (CLI) Installation:

  • 300 MHz x86 processor.
  • 128 MiB of system memory (RAM).
  • 1 GB of disk space.
  • Graphics card and monitor capable of 640×480.
  • CD-ROM drive.

Some other free alternatives:

Orca is a free, open source, flexible, and extensible screen reader for Linux that provides access to graphical desktop environments via user-customizable combinations of speech, braille, and magnification.

There are no specific system requirements, as it is expected to work even with very little RAM.

NVDA(NonVisual Desktop Access) is a free, open source, portable screen reader for Microsoft Windows.

NVDA uses eSpeak as its integrated speech synthesizer, and also supports SAPI synthesizers. Output to braille displays is supported too.
It runs on both 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Microsoft Windows XP or later.

It has no additional hardware requirements beyond those of the operating system and requires less than 50 mb of disk space.

Proprietary software alternatives:

Proprietary software is computer software licensed under exclusive legal right of the copyright holder. The licensee is given the right to use the software under certain conditions, while restricted from other uses, such as modification, further distribution, or reverse engineering.

JAWS (Job Access With Speech) is a computer screen reader program for Microsoft Windows that allows blind and visually impaired users to read the screen either with a text-to-speech output or a refreshable braille display.

There are two versions of the program,standard and professional. A third version for MS-DOS is free.

Window-eyes is a screen reader for Microsoft Windows, compatible with the following versions: Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.

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