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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Screen Reader

Screen Reader or Text-to-Speech software is used to convert text (words or numbers) from a computer document (e.g., a word processed document, a spreadsheet, or a web page) into audible speech spoken through the computer speaker. This technology is helpful to people who need or want aural verification of what is in print on a computer screen.

Note: with software that produces a "sound" or voice output, you also need a PC compatible sound card, which usually comes with Pentium-based computers, or a separate speech synthesizer.

It is also important to understand that screen readers do not work with all applications. This is particularly true for proprietary software built for an individual business or profession, but in some cases specialists can customize the software to increase its usefulness.

Photo of three screen reading program packages; JAWS, Window Eyes, and Hal

Photo of three screen reading program packages; JAWS, Window Eyes, and Hal

Screen reading programs are available for most Windows-based computers.

To view a short video about screen reading technology and refreshable braille displays choose one of the following links:

Video on screen reading technology and refreshable braille displays in Windows Media format
Video on screen reading technology and refreshable braille displays in Real Player format
Transcript of screen reading technology and refreshable braille displays video

For more information on where to purchase different types of screen readers, visit the following pages in AFB's Product Database:

Screen Readers
Miscellaneous Speech Products

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