Saturday, July 22

Article on a New Free Screen Reader

Greetings. I received the following article from an email list. I'm not sure how good this proposed screen reader is or will be. Especially considering the competition with JAWS, Window Eyes, and Hal, among others. However, it very well might contribute to the over all screen reader market, which can be a good thing. I'm not sure I'll give up JAWS right off, but its good to know that there's an option out there for those that may not be able to afford a program like JAWS. It will be interesting to see how this new screen reader develops, like if it gets more complex and can do more things. Enjoy.

Peterborough Today (UK)
Friday, July 21, 2006

ACCESSIBILITY: Hi-tech aid for blind on a roll
By Sarah Gunthardt

A CITY company has successfully launched the world's first
free-talking
computer software - Thunder - which is likely to be a
storming success for
blind
and partially sighted people worldwide.
Thunder was launched by Screenreader.net, run by blind city
couple Margaret
and Roger Wilson-Hinds, from their home in Orton Wistow,
Peterborough.
The pair, who have been running Choice Technology, which
specialises in
products for blind and partially-sighted people since 1992,
were runners-up
in
Peterborough Enterprise Centre's first-ever competition to
find the region's
Best Business Idea for 2006.
They are delighted to have achieved their ambition to launch
the software,
which will help bring computers and the internet alive for
the blind and
partially-sighted.
The Thunder screenreader turns a normal PC into a talking
computer by
reading out loud what's on screen.
It will enable them to listen to internet sites, shop
on-line, hear their
e-mails and, with the software reading out to them as they
type, they will
be
able to create letters and other documents with ease.
Screenreader.net is a not-for-profit community interest
company, which
developed the software in partnership with Manchester-based
Sensory Software
Ltd.
The software was launched at the Sight Village Exhibition in
Birmingham this
week.
Mr Wilson-Hinds said: "At Screenreader.net, our mission is
to deliver free
talking software worldwide so that blind people everywhere
can benefit from
the computer, the web, and e-mails.
"We see the talking computer as the modern Braille -
providing a gateway to
learning, work opportunities and a measure of financial
freedom and
independence."
Thunder is set to create a real storm as talking computer
software is
currently available, but at a price, with the cheapest
system, Windows Eyes
costing
about £380, and the most widely used system, JAWS, costing
£800.
Thunder is entirely free to individuals, with multi-user
packages available
to organisations for an annual subscription, which also
includes training.
Thunder has already received the backing of a number of
organisations,
including the National Blind Children's Society, the Royal
Blind Society and
New
Zealand Association for the Blind. Chief executive of the
Royal Blind
Society Graham Booth said: "This is a simple, easy-to-use
product that's
going to
bring huge benefits to blind people and greatly enhance
their quality of
life.
"We wish Screenreader.net every success with this exciting
and important
venture."
All that is needed to use the Thunder screenreader is a
computer running
Windows 2000, Windows XP or Vista, plus speakers or
headphones. For more
information
and to download Thunder for free, visit
www.screenreader.net.

Article by Business Editor Sarah Gunthardt.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Wayne. I downloaded Thunder when it was still in the beta cycle and it is very good. There are some limitations though. Thunder does not support any email client except for Outlook Express, and the only web browser that can be used with Thunder is WebbIE. There is a download link for WebbIE on the Thunder website, www.screenreader.net . It says on the site that Thunder does support Internet Explorer, but I couldn't get the two to work together very well. I guess I'll have to do a bit more tweaking. Also, in order for Thunder to work with Outlook Express the messages must be displayed in plain text and the preview pain must be checked. There are checkboxes for these two items. But other than that, I really like Thunder and I hope more people will download it. I posted an entry about Thunder in my journal on http://jajoehl-74.diaryland.com .

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