Oct 2, 2008, 11:38 AM
Post #1 of 5
Visually Impaired Software
Looking for software to help a visually impaired friend of ours use a computer for web browsing etc. I know about the built in magnifiers in Windows, but we are looking for something perhaps specifically designed for someone like her. Not completely blind, but signifigantly reduced vision. I have seen some information on a couple of software packages like JAWS and MAgic, just looking for other options.
First, don't ever buy something, no matter how well intentioned, for someone else. They see with eyes you can't even begin to understand, and software preferences/needs are very individual. Second, there may be ways to get devices covered (Lions clubs, local vision/blindness centers, state organizations). Third, the best tools in the world are useless without some really good training. And finally, there is no one tool that suits every person. Sometimes all that's needed are special glasses or tints, sometimes special contact lenses, sometimes just a bigger computer monitor or different lighting options.
My specialty is low vision rehabilitation, so this is what I do a LOT of for a living, and I learned very quickly that even with the same visual acuity and same disease diagnosis, two people will function very very differently.
Where does your friend live? I may be able to give some good contact people depending on where he is. What condition does he have? Does he work? What are his goals? What does HE want to do with his vision?
JAWS and Magic are good, so is ZoomText (www.aisquared.com). You can download a free 30 day trial of ZoomText from the web site, but a little training will go a long way in making your friend proficient with it.
Thanks for your reply, I very much appreciate the information. It was not my intention to purchase anything, just start getting some information for her on where to start. I really do not have much information on this person, (I got involved in the conversation when they found out I worked on computers) and volunteered to do a little research for them. We are here in Marin County just north of San Francisco, and if you have any resource recommendations for this person I am sure it will be much appreciated!
These would probably be the best places to start for low vision services if they haven't tapped into them already. The aisquared web site is good to get started on ZoomText, at least get a passing familiarity with it to help. It's a pricey program, but at least she can demo for free to start with. If she has any specific questions, feel free to put her in touch with me.
My father is significantly visually impaired; while computers aren't a part of his life any more (he's 90), he found that training from the local lighthouse for hte blind was incredibly helpful in getting him the most use from teh vision that he did have.
Transportation for visual rehab might be far and away the most useful thing. It can be a real toughie in some places, because when the rehab happens is often when potential ride-givers are working.