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Accessible Technology for Visually Impaired Employees

26 Mar 2019

Accessible Technology for Visually Impaired Employees



Today, every business has one or more needs for accessible technology, whether it is for consumers or employees. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to provide all job applicants and employees with disabilities “reasonable accommodations” that are necessary for them to have equal employment opportunities. Reasonable accommodations can either be physical modifications to the workplace or by implementing modified policies or new assistive technology. Of these, the most common requirements for visually impaired employees is the need for assistive technology. The assistive technology we will discuss in this article includes, screen reading software and voice labeling systems.

Screen Reading Software

Screen reading software is the most popular technology used to aid visually impaired individuals and employees alike! But what is screen reading software exactly? What this software does, is convert any text into speech to be read aloud to the user. Additionally, it can turn the text into Braille lettering to allow the user to read for his or herself. Amongst the many different options to choose from, some of the most popular are JAWS Screen Reader, Non-Visual Desktop Access (NVDA), and Refreshable Braille Displays.

JAWS stands for Job Access with Speech and is rated the #1 most popular screen reading software in the world! JAWS is compatible with all of the newest Windows operating system and is able to convert all of the various components into speech or Braille. Making it possible for those who suffer with a visual disability to use the operating system. Just a few examples of what this software does:

  • Read documents. emails, websites and apps
  • Easily navigate with your mouse
  • Scan and read all of your documents, including PDF
  • Fill out webforms with ease
  • Easy to use with Daisy formatted basic training
  • Save time with Skim Reading and Text Analyzer
  • Surf the net with web browsing keystrokes

Non-Visual Desktop Access (NVDA) aids blind and visually impaired individuals to access and interact with the Windows operating system and many third-party applications. NVDA has been translated by volunteers into more than 43 languages and been used by people in more than 120 countries. Furthermore, it is an open source software, which means the code is accessible to anyone. This enables translators and developers around the world to continually contribute to its expansion and improvement. Some of its main features are as follows:

  • Read documents. emails, websites and apps
  • Easily navigate with your mouse
  • Scan and read all of your documents, including PDF
  • Fill out webforms with ease
  • Easy to use with Daisy formatted basic training
  • Save time with Skim Reading and Text Analyzer
  • Surf the net with web browsing keystrokes

Refreshable Braille Displays convert information on a computer screen into Braille, by electronically raising and lowering different combinations of pins in braille cells. Additionally, they can display up to 80 characters at a time and have the ability to “refresh” or change continuously as the user moves the cursor around the screen! The price of braille displays range from $3,500 to $15,000, depending on the number of characters displayed. The sizes offered are 40, 70, or 80-character limits. With the use of braille displays, employees can utilize all the benefits of braille lettering without the need of specially prepared documents or additional screen reading software!

Voice Labeling Systems

What are voice labeling systems and how can they help aid visually impaired employees? With the assistance of these handheld devices, visually impaired employees can use their own voice to label items with ease. The way they work, is by recording your own voice onto adhesive labels which can be placed onto the designated item. Once recorded, using the voice labeling device, you can point at the object and your own recorded voice will recite back the set recording. This is a must have for any visually impaired employee who needs to keep track of records or documents!

In the ever advancing world of technology, we are constantly improving the quality of life and physical ability of individuals struggling from disabilities! By incorporating the technology discussed above into any employment setting, you will open the door to new potential employees and customers alike. In conclusion, by leveling the playing field, an employer may be surprised at how the simple implementation of these systems can tremendously effect the quality and efficiency of work from some current employees!

 

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