Free Screen Readers
A free screen reader can come in handy in so many instances:
- You need to test a web site or software with screen readers
- You want to understand how blind people use the computer
- Commercial screen readers are too expensive and you need a cost effective alternative
Here I will discuss the most popular free screen reader programs and will show you where to get it from.
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NVDA is an open source, free screen reader which has been emerging over the last couple of years. It is a Windows based screen reader, which works with more and more applications. It is becoming very popular among blind people because of its effectiveness, and especially in the developing countries, it is a great alternative for a costly screen reader. Another advantage is that you can also run it from a USB drive.
Serotek put together the System Access package which has several versions. You can visit http://satogo immediately install a screen reader from your web browser, and you have a complete screen reader which you can use even outside your browser. This is one of the quickest ways of getting a screen reader up and running on your system. Serotek also offers extended versions for a fee, but it is much cheaper than other commercial screen readers and you can also select a monthly installment.
ORCA is a Linux based screen reader, which you can find under the Gnome package. It has also been emerging over the last several years, and it opened a new world to blind Linux users. This is not the only one screen reader under Linux, but it is certainly the most popular.
Under the latest Ubuntu distributions, it is also included on the installation CD, and with just a couple of initial key presses allows blind people to have speech during the installation process.
Demo Screen Readers
Most commercial screen readers also provide a free demo which you can use for a limited time, however, please read the license requirements as their use can be limited to certain activities only.