Often I’m asked which screen reading program is best for users who are blind or have low vision. My response is always the same: It depends.
It depends on what computer tasks the person is trying to accomplish, and the type of environment in which he or she is working.
It has been my experience that all of the major screen readers do a good job of providing access to the three most widely used applications on personal computers. I bet you can guess what those are. If you said word processing, internet browsing and emailing, you are correct.
If you need to access other types of programs, then you may find that one screen reader does a better job than another. This can be particularly true in situations where you’re working with specialized software, such as in a science class or an employment situation.
For example, a screen reader user working for an insurance company may find that the company uses a custom-designed application to track his or her customer accounts. It is my understanding that it’s difficult to know which screen reader will work best with this type of software, depending on what tasks the user needs to accomplish with the software. My recommended solution is to acquire at least a trial/demo copy (or a full version) of several screen readers, and with the assistance of a knowledgeable assistive technology specialist, try out the various readers with the insurance company’s software.
Below is a list of some of the primary screen readers currently on the market.
- Zoom Text
- System Access or System Access To Go