Screen readerThe screen reader is a complex screen input and readout software that controls screen contents. The software interprets the screen information (e.g. texts, graphics and their meaning, the current input position or the screen layout) and outputs it tactilely via Braille displays or acoustically via voice output. There is external screen reader software installed on the PC (e.g. JAWS) as well as integrated screen readers. For example, TalkBack is Google's screen reader on Android devices, and VoiceOver is built into iOS devices. Screen readers also help people use large portions of standard software independently. However, not every computer program can be operated with a screen reader, for example due to poorly adapted software. Application training is therefore recommended.
Magnification softwareFor people with visual impairments, there is screen magnification software that not only displays screen contents larger, but also, for example, enhances contrasts and colours and tracks the focus (e.g. ticker, document reading function). Different output media (e.g. speech output, Braille display) can be combined with the software. Information that is not visible in the magnified image section is thus available, which is easier on the eyes.
Speech output: Speech output reads text aloud on the PC screen. A speech output is an integral part of a reading aloud system or screen reader that enables orientation on the screen. Speech speed, volume, pitch and sentence melody can be individually adjusted. Speech output is available as stand-alone software (e.g., for converting text on a computer screen or smartphone display to speech, reading aloud text messages and emails on a cell phone). These standardized announcement and read aloud features are not developed specifically for people with visual impairments, but are often intended for mobile use (e.g., driving).
Text and object recognition software (character reading software): Text recognition software (often called OCR software - Optical Character Recognition) identifies letters in a document or in graphic files such as PDFs, photos or scans and converts them into digital text files. The text files can be further edited or copied. The output of the text files is usually done in combination with computers and mobile devices via screen reader software (e.g. via speech output). Usually scanners (e.g. flatbed scanners) transfer the written documents. Smartphones are also suitable for occasional scanning. Object recognition software, on the other hand, compares photos or codes such as barcodes with a database and outputs the descriptions stored for them. This makes it possible, for example, to recognize products and, in some cases, faces.
Voice recognition softwareSpeech recognition software can automatically convert speech into text that appears directly on the screen. Speech recognition software can also be used to control computers and other devices. However, depending on the degree of visual impairment, speech recognition is only useful in conjunction with other assistive products such as Braille displays, screen readers, magnification systems, or speech output. In mobile devices with the operating systems Android and iOS, own speech recognitions are integrated.
AppsFor mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets, there are numerous, often pre-installed apps (applications for small displays and touch screens) that are also helpful for people with visual impairments and blindness. Examples include apps for recognizing text, barcodes, colors, light, or bills. Native apps are tailored to the computer's operating system (e.g. iOS, Android). Web apps run platform-independently in the respective internet browser and should support the other assistive products needed (e.g. screen readers) well. You can search for more apps in the App Store (iOS) and Google Play (Android) in our app search.
Other software for people with visual impairments: Other special software programs for people with visual impairments can only be operated via the keyboard using direct input commands and menus. The software range includes accessible currency converters, email clients, accessible database software or administration programs for electronic files and other document management systems.