Assistive Technology can be a great enabler for people with a sight difficulty. This section is dedicated to promoting awareness of the many I.C.T. solutions available for people with a visual impairment.
Links and Suppliers (Force 10, Concept Northern and RNIB)
You can view this site in 'High Contrast' (black text on white background or vice versa) by pressing the keyboard keys 'Left ALT + Left SHIFT and Print SCREEN' (keyboard shortcut).
Alternatively you can follow these instructions:
Select 'Start' from the bottom left hand side of your screen or press the keyboard shortcut keys 'Ctrl + Esc' (or the Windows keys if you have one - this is usually found between the Ctrl and Alt keys).
Select 'Settings' and 'Control Panel' or press 'S' for Settings and then press the 'Enter' key when highlighted.
This will take you into the 'Control Panel'. Now click 'Accessibility Options' or press the 'Tab' key or 'F6' to highlight the Accessibility Options icon. Press 'Enter' or 'Return' to activate.
Now select the 'Display' tab on the top of the Accessibility Options dialogue box. This can also be done by navigating with the right arrow key.
Click or tab to the 'Use High Contrast' tick box. Press the spacebar to select and/or unselect the tick box.
Select the 'Settings' button just to the right of the tick box.
Once in the 'Settings' list you can choose from a wide variety of settings.
Finally select or tap to the 'Apply' button to change your settings.
A useful and inexpensive way to help people new to the keyboard or those with a visual impairment is to have one or two keyboards that have high visibility stickers on them.
Keytop stickers come in a range of colours (white text on black and black text on white as well as black text on yellow and yellow text on black) and in upper and lower case.
They cost approximately £15.00.
If you have Internet Explorer you can increase the text size to suit your needs by selecting 'View' on the browser toolbar then 'Text Size'. This will reveal a sub menu with a range of choices from 'Smallest' to 'Largest' text size.
You can also use the keyboard shortcut: ALT+V, X and select the size of your choice.
There are also other browsers which provide enhanced visual features, for example Opera. This can be downloaded for free at www.opera.com
IBM Home Page Reader
IBM Home Page Reader reads Web pages and includes a number of other features for low vision, such as magnification and highlighting.
If you use Microsoft Windows and Office you can quickly and easily adapt your computer to better suit your needs.
For example, if you have difficulties seeing information on the screen you can increase the font size on the menu bars.
1. Begin by clicking the ‘Start’ button on the bottom left hand side of the screen.
2. When the menu appears select ‘Control Panel’.
3. Now select the 'Display' icon.
4. You should now see a box similar to the one below.
5. Now select the 'Appearance' tab.
6. Just to the bottom right of the box there is a button labelled 'Advanced'. Select this button.
7. The next step is to click on the ‘Normal’ text just underneath the 'Active Window' text.
8. Finally, select the drop down arrow to the right of the 'Font' text and select a font size that best suits your needs. Then select the 'OK' button and the the 'Apply' button and 'OK' on the box which will now come in to focus. Return to the Control Panel and select 'File' and 'Close' to return to the desktop.
Below are examples of different menu font sizes:
Before at the standard font size of 9 points.
After with the new font size of 18 points.
BigKeys LX is a range of keyboards that can help support users who have a visual impairment. They are also particularly helpful for people who have a motor difficulty such as a hand tremor.
The simple layout of the BigKeys LX has 2.5cm square keys with lettering 10 times larger than standard.
This makes them easy to see, find, read, and press. Rugged and dependable BigKeys LX is the same size as a standard keyboard and offers more advanced computer users a full range of keys for writing letters, e-mail, spreadsheets and other text entry.
BigKeys LX offers a range of options, for example, QWERTY or ABC layout; lower or upper case letters, black lettering on white keys, or black lettering on assorted brightly coloured keys.
Designed at the Ace Centre the Large Cursors and Pointers download provides 80 additional pointers and cursors for those with visual or perceptual difficulties. Icon styles include animated, coloured, large, I-beams and circles.
iZoom, the first free full-screen magnifier/reader is now available from Issist and containst the following features: Intuitive interface makes it simple to use, 1.5X to 16X magnification on supported sites, and upto 3X on unsupported sites, 6 Zooming modes, including Full Screen and Magnifying Lens, adjustable zoom lens size, high grade image smoothing, user configurable color settings, cursor enhancements and option to launch the program automatically at startup.
This is a great utility particulalry when it is free! It also has speech output support which makes it a great all rounder!
For more magnifiying resources and free downloads visit www.magnifiers.org
The Virtual Magnifying Glass is a magnifying glass lens that follows the mouse movement.
You can move the lens around the screen to view magnification of any screen area. To close the lens, click the left mouse button. Virtual Magnifying Glass also adds it's own taskbar icon. Left-click on the icon offers a shortcut for launching the lens again.
A big thank you to Sensory Software for this download. The Big Calculator is a very useful utility for a learner who needs an additional bit of help to identify the numbers etc. Tip: Click and drag the Calculator to resize it to meet your needs.
ZoomText Magnifier/ScreenReader is a powerful yet easy to use screen magnifier and screen reader.
ZoomText Magnifier/ScreenReader echoes typing, reads information pointed to by the mouse, and speaks program events as they occur. Flexible verbosity settings give you complete control over the amount of information spoken by ZoomText.
The new AppReader reads documents, web pages and email, from within the parent application. And with ZoomText’s specialized application support for Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, Internet Explorer, Acrobat and Java, you’ll be reading documents and web pages with 100% accuracy.
Dolphin release new version 6.51 software!
Dolphin's latest v6.51 release of Supernova, Hal, Lunar and LunarPlus, now comes with the most advanced computer access features for blind and low vision computer users, and is now available to buy in the world's first Pen Edition.
The Dolphin Pen allows users to carry their Dolphin software with them and instantly run it on any "Dolphin Pen Friendly" PC, as if it were their own home system. Crucially, this means that the individual user's settings are automatically applied to the system. As soon as the Dolphin Pen is removed, the software is no longer running and the PC is ready for another user to insert their Dolphin Pen and have their software running with their own personal settings applied.
Unlike traditional screen access products, the Dolphin Pen requires no installation
but runs from a USB Pen Drive - a small portable device just a few centimetres
long which plugs straight into the USB slot of your computer. This allows
a user to carry their preferred settings with them to any PC and run Supernova,
Hal or Lunar without the need to install the full product, and without the
need to configure their preferred settings each time. The Dolphin Pen is the
perfect portable solution.
In most cases screen reading software will read the information, which can be a Word document or Windows application or even the Internet, back to the user.
Screen reading software will normally have its own speech synthesizer which works in conjunction with the computer’s sound card. Information from the screen is read aloud, providing technology to access a wide variety of information, education and job related applications.
For more information about screen reading software select the following links:
Assist-I.T. provides training on JAWS and HAL. For more information click here to find out about our training courses
The Maestro Handheld PC is an accessible PDA for visually impaired users.
Maestro is a PDA made accessible by VisuAide using a text-to-speech technology adapted application and a tactile keyboard membrane over the PDA's touch screen.
Maestro offers portability and the convenience of state-of-the-art wireless technology. For example, you can take notes directly with the integrated tactile keyboard or with an external wireless Braille or Qwerty keyboard.
Maestro's flexible environment allows you to add other VisuAide applications (ex. Trekker GPS system and Victor Reader, the digital talking book player). You can also easily transfer files between your Maestro and PC.
The Maestro's main features include: PC Windows-based suite of applications,
electronic agenda and contact manager, text notetaking,
vocal notes, synchronization to PC MS Office applications, open software environment and flexible hardware & software configuration.
Force Ten started trading in 1967, and since 1989 has become a major supplier of Low Vision Aids and Assistive Hearing products for those with visual and hearing impairments. Force 10 are suppliers of technology for Independent Living, Education and Employment supporting those with Low Sight, Blind, Hearing and Mobility Impairments.
Force 10 supply a range of products including:
- Eezee Readers
- Electronic Video Magnifiers - CCTVs
- PC connectable cameras
- Large Screen and Talking Calculator
- Stand alone Audio Text Readers
- i.d.Mate voice labelling system
- Computers and Special Software
- Tiger Braille Printers and Braille displays
- Assistive Hearing products and Loop systems
To find out more contact:
Norman Lilly, Tony Shrubb and Linda Oram,
Tel: 01372 450887 Fax: 01372 450771
Based in Scotland, Concept Northern provide Hardware & Software professionally designed for the visually impaired.
Concept Northern offer free demonstrations, advice and full training on any of their products.
Concept Northern are used widely by the RNIB & Employment Services and education to provide support all over Scotland. The Hardware & Software they provide is internationally recognised as some of the best available to assist the visually impaired in the home, on the move or at work.
In the UK 17,000 people with sight problems use a white cane.Another 5000 use guide dogs. There are many more who need help with everyday living.
RNIB works to enable people with sight problems to live their daily lives independently.