Technology & Accessibility Resources for the Blind
Apple’s VoiceOver: Apple has a number of resources on numerous devices to help with vision impairment or blindness. The first resource, and probably the most helpful, is the advances they’ve made with VoiceOver technology. VoiceOver is a powerful screen reader that comes with every Mac. Not only does Voice Over tell you exactly what’s on your screen, it also interacts with the individual. You can navigate, read, type, and essentially use any feature on a Mac computer, using only your voice. Other helpful tools on the Mac and iDevices are zoom, dictation, onscreen keyboards, contrast options, cursor size, and Braille displays. Learn more: https://www.apple.com/accessibility/osx/#vision
Israel Martinez of the San Diego Center for the Blind is a big fan of Apple’s accessibility solutions, “I think this is because Apple has made it a point to make their devices uber-accessible and can work for just about any disability if you set it up right. For someone with vision loss it’s got magnification and contrast adjustments. For someone who is totally blind, it has speech feedback and can work completely through a series of gestures. Plus they make you look cool and you can blend into crowd without looking blind which is actually important for many people losing their sight and kids that just want to fit in.”
Microsoft’s Vision Guide: Microsoft has developed several tools to assist with vision impairment. In addition to their own version of screen readers, Microsoft’s new touch screen laptops and Surface Pro both have options for an efficient Braille keyboard option. Both extremely helpful because of how portable they are, each device has a detachable keyboard and screen so that the user has better access and vision of the device. Microsoft has also established several attachments for current and new devices. Braille printers, Braille displays, Braille Notetakers, and Book Reader are easy to install and extremely helpful. Learn more: http://www.microsoft.com/enable/guides/vision.aspx
KNFB Reader: A new app developed exclusively for Apple products, KNBF reader is making waves in digital voice to text technology. The app has many features, but probably the most exciting one is photography reading. You simply take a picture of a document, a picture, a file, you name it, and KNFB will read/describe what you take a picture of. KNFB will even verbally navigate you to take a picture of something. Fully interactive, you can also speak to the app and it will open any application on your phone (mail, contacts, texting etc.) and type exactly what you want to say. KNBF also syncs your devices in harmony to help better organize everything on your devices. Learn more: http://www.knfbreader.com/
American Foundation for the Blind: AFB has helped people with vision impairment for over 90 years. They help change lives by providing guest speakers, support groups, professional programs, and technology evaluation. Technology evaluation, one of AFB’s best services, is a program that helps develop technology for the blind. Each technology device that’s introduced to the organization is carefully tested by a number of individuals to make sure it’s features are best suited for anyone with vision impairment. Some of the most prominent devices they help develop are cell phones, copiers and faxers, kitchen and home appliances, voting machines, and many more. To learn more: http://www.afb.org/info/programs-and-services/technology-evaluation/12
National Federation of the Blind: Founded in 1940, NFB has grown to over fifty-thousand members, and has even expanded internationally. NFB helps provide a number of services like housing assistance, job assistance, education assistance, recreation, and technology. They even have their own independent market for products that are specifically made for vision assistance. To browse their market: https://nfb.org/independence-market. For more resources: www.nfb.org
http://www.braillerman.com/links.htm – a website to several helpful links related to blindness.
http://www.perkinsproducts.org/store/en/ – A website developed exclusively for selling products that cater to people with vision impairment. They have devices for classrooms, offices, home, and more.