jump to article
AFB  ®
Technology News for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
From the American Foundation for the Blind
 July 2000 Issue  Volume 1  Number 4


Question and Answer

Question: I heard Microsoft makes something that speaks information about what's happening in Windows. Do I want this; should I get it?

Answer: You are probably asking about something called Narrator. First, let's be sure everyone knows that this product is definitely not a screen reader. Narrator comes with Windows 2000. You will need to have a functioning sound card to use it, but that is a small price to pay.

Narrator is a very cute, rather functional program. It starts up with a message telling you that you might want a more substantial screen reader, which is most likely true if you want to use a screen reader at all. Narrator is quite useful, though, when you drop by to visit your brother and he is pulling out his hair trying to figure out how to get something to work on the computer. You might just run Narrator and be able to give him a little assistance.

Does it really work? That depends on what you want it to do. It reads menus and dialog boxes in programs like Notepad, Internet Explorer, and the Control Panel. It reads text when you are using the arrow keys in Notepad and it reads Web pages in IE5 and lets you know what link you are on when you are tabbing around. It does not have many commands, so there is not much to memorize. It also does not let you do things like spell words or inspect punctuation. The command to read the text of an edit field reads the text in Notepad, as well. Interestingly, it reads all of the text, even the ends of lines that disappear off the right side of the window or the last lines that run off the screen.

The documentation is a little thin. In fact, I found two hot keys that did not seem to be documented anywhere. Alt-Home reads the title bar and Alt-End reads something near the bottom of the window, sometimes the status line.

How do you run Narrator? Bring up the Start Menu by pressing Control-Escape, then press "R" for "Run." Type "Narrator" and press ENTER. I think you will find it fun and useful, but don't abandon your full-featured screen reader. And absolutely never accept any suggestion from an employer or anyone else that Narrator makes a screen reader unnecessary.

Previous Article | Next Article | Table of Contents

AccessWorld, Copyright © 2002 American Foundation for the Blind. All rights reserved.

Download the free AccessWorld appDownload the free AccessWorld app
Back Issues
Search AccessWorld
AccessWorld Alerts Signup
For Advertisers
Contact AccessWorld

Related Links

Using Assistive Technology
AccessWorld Appliance Accessibility Guide
Product Database for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
AFB Consulting
Orbit Reader 20 by Orbit Research. A low-cost Breakthrough for Refreshable Braille

Sprint Vision: Services for Consumers Who Are Blind Or Have Low Vision

Learn NVDA

HIMS New All In One Video Magnifier

Low Vision Simulators Plus VSRT (Pepper) Test LUV Reading Workbook

Foundations of Education, Third Edition

Exercise and Fitness Strategies for Older Adults

College Bound: A Guide for Students with Visual Impairments, 2nd Edition

The Why, When and How for Reading eBooks

College Bound: Practical Steps for Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

AccessNote Accessible Notetaker App FREE on Android and iOS


NEW! iOS in the Classroom: A Guide for Teaching Students with Visual Impairments

Hope. Help. Connections for People with Vision Loss. VisionConnect FREE iOS app!
 End of advertising