In addition to tactile systems, individuals who are blind have typically accessed information through auditory methods. In the early days, individuals who were blind had readers. Readers could be family members or friends who would volunteer to read information to the visually impaired person. As you can imagine, acquiring substantial information was out of the question.
In 1936, the American Printing House established its Talking Book Recording Studio.
Listen to George Patterson read one of the first books ever recorded at APH, “The Sketch Book”.
The availability of electricity gave way to electric phonographs and eventually, to record players. Flexible vinyl was slowly replaced by rigid vinyl. then tape recorders and audio cassettes came about, and were eventually replaced by digital media.
We have come a long way since the times when individuals who were blind had to find volunteers who would read to them.
Today, screen readers have opened doors to all kinds of information, apps and modes of communication.
A screen reader is a piece of software that uses synthesized speech to read what’s on the screen of a device.
The video below is a brief demonstration of screen readers.
Although screen readers were initially developed to be used with a computer, now a days, mobility and portability are essential parts of our daily life, and screen readers function also with different kinds of tablets and smart phones.
A screen reader paired up with the capabilities of a smart phone provides visually impaired individuals easy access to every day modern necessities such as a calendar, text messaging, an accessible telephone interface, a contact list, and GPS.
Furthermore, when used with the tablet or phone’s high quality camera, they may become a powerful tool.
This video shows how the Seeing AI app, developed by microsoft is a perfect example of how technology may be used to enhance the lives of people with vision loss.
Watch a brief video that explores the capabilities of this app.