Screen readerThe screen reader is a complex screen input and output 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. TalkBack, for example, is the screen reader from Google on Android devices, VoiceOver is built into iOS devices. Screen readers also help to use large parts of the 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.
Enlargement software: For people with visual impairments, there is screen magnification software that not only displays screen content larger, but also enhances contrasts and colours and tracks focus (e.g. ticker, document reading function). Various output media (e.g. voice output, Braille display) can be combined with the software. The information not visible in the enlarged image section is thus available, which relieves the eyes.
Voice output: Voice outputs read text on the PC screen aloud. A voice output is an integral part of a reading system or screen reader, which enables orientation on the screen. Speech speed, volume, tone pitch and sentence melody can be individually adjusted. There are voice outputs as stand-alone software (e.g. for converting text on the computer screen or display of a smartphone into speech, reading aloud SMS and e-mails on a mobile phone). These standardized announcement and read aloud functions are not developed specifically for people with visual impairments, but are often intended for mobile use (e.g. drivers).
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 text files are usually output in combination with computers and mobile devices via screen reader software (e.g. voice output). Usually scanners (e.g. flatbed scanners) transfer the text documents. Smartphones are also suitable for occasional scanning. In contrast, object recognition software compares photos or codes such as barcodes with a database and outputs the descriptions stored for this purpose. This makes it possible, for example, to recognize products and sometimes faces.
Voice recognition softwareA speech recognition software can automatically convert speech into text that appears directly on the screen. The 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 aids such as Braille displays, screen readers, magnification systems or speech output. Mobile devices with the Android and iOS operating systems have their own integrated speech recognition.
Apps: For mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets, there are numerous, often pre-installed apps (applications for small displays and touch screens), which are also helpful for people with visual impairments and blindness. Examples are apps for the recognition of texts, barcodes, colors, light or banknotes. 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 required tools (e.g. screen readers) well. In our App Search you can search for other apps in the App Store (iOS) and Google Play (Android).
Other software for people with visual impairment: Other special software programs for people with visual impairment can only be operated using the keyboard via direct input commands and menus. The range of software includes accessible currency converters, e-mail clients, accessible database software or management programs for electronic files and other document management systems.