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Blind Inventors Revolutionize Computer Access

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Queensland University of Technology graduate James Teh

"Everything is online these days. So access to computers for the blind and vision impaired is incredibly important, which is why we wanted our software to be free," says Queensland University of Technology graduate James Teh.

Credit: Queensland University of Technology

A visually impaired team at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has developed NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA), an open source screen reader program.

The cost of screen reader technology makes it difficult for visually-impaired students to have access to computers at a time when they most need it, says QUT graduate James Teh. NVDA has a synthetic voice read the words on a computer screen as a cursor moves over them. As users move the mouse, a beeping sound increases or decreases in pitch to let them know where the cursor is located on the screen.

Volunteers have helped to translate NVDA into 27 languages so far, and the program has been downloaded more than 50,000 times. "It can also be copied to a USB stick, which can be used on any PC at school or university, with no installation required," says Teh, who worked with computer science QUT lecturer Malcolm Corney.

From Queensland University of Technology
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