Author Topic: Screen Readers for VI Grannyputer  (Read 875 times)

Screen Readers for VI Grannyputer
« on: October 28, 2012, 03:51:43 pm »
I know the title  may not be  entirley  PC but  I  have been setting up ADSL connection for my mother to try out a  demo version of Dolpin Guide, I have checked  it out  and  it looks  like a  good  tool for  someone who is  VI  Pam can touch type which is  more  than I can mange, and  wants a better screen reader than lookout.
I am not suprised by the price, but I just wondered what is available open source, orca (on gnome)? I guess is aimed more at a more experienced user, but  I wonder whether I can  configure to  work as a simple puter for  web browsing and email.
I do have a laptop available, but  It  may  struggle to  run Gnome, so XFCE may  have to  be used.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Screen Readers for VI Grannyputer
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2012, 03:57:11 pm »
I get the impression that Orca is (understandably) a bit more of a power user thing.  I'm not sure how functionally complete it actually is.

Have you considered a Mac?  They're not cheap, but there's competent screenreadery stuff (and braille terminally stuff!) built-in to OSX.

Barakta will, no doubt, be along later with an expert opinion...
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Screen Readers for VI Grannyputer
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2012, 04:02:32 pm »
Yes, thought that Ocra was power user from the text documentation
not considered  a  MAC, but  it's will be a lot less than the Dolpin + Laptop package and Way cool with the grandchildren!

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Screen Readers for VI Grannyputer
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2012, 04:13:28 pm »
not considered  a  MAC, but  it's will be a lot less than the Dolpin + Laptop package

Exactly.  Apple seem to have the right idea about this, at least for the right kind of visually impaired user (AIUI the voice-over stuff is reasonably good, and that it Just Works with a braille terminal is extremely impressive, but the uber magnification for those with some vision is disappointing).  By integrating this stuff at the OS level, it avoids an awful lot of buggy edge-cases, and people will happily pay twice as much for a computer if they don't have to pay for JAWS or similar.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Screen Readers for VI Grannyputer
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2012, 04:32:55 pm »
I can't comment much on the original question, because it's well outside my area of knowledge or expertise, but should you go the Mac route, the Mac mini is a relatively cheap way to address this, so long as you get a reasonable and cheap, monitor, keyboard and mouse.  The Mac mini isn't massively cheap, but it's not too expensive (compared to other Macs), and surprisingly small and neat.  I've bought a couple for my father over the years, and he's generally had no problem with them, so they mostly seem very reliable.
Actually, it is rocket science.
 

barakta

  • Bastard lovechild of Yomiko Readman and Johnny 5
Re: Screen Readers for VI Grannyputer
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2012, 12:21:40 am »
I know the title  may not be  entirley  PC but  I  have been setting up ADSL connection for my mother to try out a  demo version of Dolpin Guide, I have checked  it out  and  it looks  like a  good  tool for  someone who is  VI  Pam can touch type which is  more  than I can mange, and  wants a better screen reader than lookout.
I am not suprised by the price, but I just wondered what is available open source, orca (on gnome)? I guess is aimed more at a more experienced user, but  I wonder whether I can  configure to  work as a simple puter for  web browsing and email.
I do have a laptop available, but  It  may  struggle to  run Gnome, so XFCE may  have to  be used.

I am not very up on Dolphin products as our students tend to use JAWS or ZoomText as they're more versatile for educational purposes.  My quick RTFM and what I do know of Dolphin products is that they are now aiming for the elderly, not very computer literate or demanding users - whether this is a good thing for individuals or in general is a whole other debate that my colleague P would be more au fait with than me.

I'd never even heard of Lookout (other than as a rude name for M$ Outlook!). Looking at that website I recognise some of the names of people P knows but the products are not yet really good enough for people who can get something better and I believe Roger is focussing on the smartphone app market with dubious likelihood of proper success - cheap, fast, good - pick any two applies and the amount of Dev work Roger is having to do is stopping the cheap or good. 

I would say eww to Orca especially for a grannyputer user (not offended here, it says a lot to me about the user) - it is buggy in my experience (I've not had much joy in making it work consistently although if you're a better haxx0r than me you might have better luck as I didn't put HOURS into it) and yes you're talking JAWS level of usability i.e learning curve which is a bit like a cliff-face which is fine for people like my colleague P who've been blind since their early 30s and are willing/able to put in phenomenal amounts of learning work but really not great for someone who isn't willing/able to put hours and hours and hours of rote learning into it.

Kim's beat me to my main point - at £500 for anything decent (and if you're spending magnitude that on windows software then go for Zoomtext) then you're worth considering a mac.  It wouldn't have to be a new one - there can be a lively second hand market for people wanting the latest and greatest.  The mac voiceover is winning on ubiquitosity it isn't "assistive technology" it's "technology", turn onable by anyone using the machine.  I'm wary of Apple products SteveWare and have my issues with vendor lockin but they are lovely, consistent and voice over does make it the least-worst OS of choice for many blind friends.  Voice Over doesn't work with *every* application, so some browsers (firefox I think) and third party apps suck a bit, but the Apple stuff is apparently very good.  And my understanding from the users I know is that the user-paradigm is better than commercial screenreader apps cos they've been designed more usably for blind people in mind.

Do you know anyone with a mac you could borrow to show Pam?  Also anyone who works for a university or is a student as they can get 15% educational discount on Apple products which can make the whole thing less painful.  A mac looked after is likely to last ages and may well be a serious investment.

Another thing you could do is go to an Apple Store - book an appt - have a fondle and play and ask them to help Pam decide if this might work.  When P got his last mac 2 yrs ago he paid an extra £70 or something for a year of free Apple genius training sessions.  Can seem a lot but he got at least 10 sessions out of it and got to know the Brum Apple Store who would check things out and help him work the kinks out in his mac and stuff.  P is a trainer by trade as it were so he knows how to get the best out of that time.

I am assuming Pam is recently visually impaired as I'm getting the impression "grannyputer" that she is elderly.  I realise I could be wrong.   

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: Screen Readers for VI Grannyputer
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2012, 08:41:16 am »
I know a Dolphin Guide user and he bought the kit together, laptop and software. His work supplies him with software and it is very sophisticated, Dolphin Guide isn't. It wont deal with PDF files and isn't great with spreadsheets. He is completely blind so gets no indication from the screen as to what is going on. It certainly highlights how poor many web pages are for accessibility. I'm sure it won't matter in your case, but it only allows one email address.

My friend has learnt a way of working, and he is able to read and reply to emails, and read accessible web pages. I did consider seeing if LogMeIn would install so I could help him out remotely, but never progressed that.

Mind you, Dolhpin Guide is like a fortnight on a beach in the Carribean compared with the RNIB recommended mobile phone. I struggled with t and I could read all the screen menus  ::-)

Im a Mac user, so if it was me doing the advice I'd get her a Mac as I already support elderly relatives with their Mac problems. As Barakta says, the accessibility is built in and therefore way Esse clunky and glitchy. If you don't know Macs that could be a problem. However you don't know Dolphin either.

I'd say the closest thing I've seen to Dolphin is WordPerfect; everything reduced to menus accessible by one character and a page full of text only.
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

barakta

  • Bastard lovechild of Yomiko Readman and Johnny 5
Re: Screen Readers for VI Grannyputer
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2012, 09:46:32 am »
Jaded I am surprised the workplace provided Dolphin as most I have heard of go for JAWS or Zoomtext for those with residual sight but I guess it depends on the knowledge/experience of the blind person and the assessor.  I've had shitty deaf assessors (one thought a reception phone was a minicom/textphone and screwed up the tech totally which was frustrating to resolve at my end) so assume there are suboptimal blindie ones too.

FWIW Adobe Reader has a built in reader  which will use any voice.  View Menu - read out loud.  Edit Menu - prefs - reading.  If anyone wants to play with that - it should pick up any voices installed on the system and will work only as well as the PDF's own accessibility i.e reading order etc is set up.

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: Screen Readers for VI Grannyputer
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2012, 10:29:05 am »
Hi, it was a personal purchase as he felt he could afford to replicate what work give him. That's interesting about Adobe Reader, I'll have a word with him. Although I'll still do what I've been doing for the local monthly free newspaper that Im involved in, which is to make sure that the PDF was created 'tagged' in InDesign, and en make a text file from that PDF. There are PDF archives on the website and accessible text archives.
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Screen Readers for VI Grannyputer
« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2012, 12:57:11 pm »
Half the problem is that the quality of PDF files encountered in the wild varies massively.  On one end of the spectrum, you've got old photocopies that someone's fed into a bulk scanner creating PDFs full of grainy images.  At the other end you've got complex documents that a barakta equivalent has spend hours tweaking in Acrobat so that the semantics work properly for all the accessibility features.  Somewhere in the middle you've got a typical print-to-PDF from MS Word type job, where the text is accessible but the structure's a bit chaotic, and you can forget about form elements working properly.

It doesn't help that you need the full version of Acrobat and non-trivial amounts of time and knowledge to do accessible PDFs of complex documents properly.  Even large organisations who should know better don't allocate those resources routinely.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Screen Readers for VI Grannyputer
« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2012, 09:46:01 pm »
Wow... what great advice you get from YACF!   :)

barakta

  • Bastard lovechild of Yomiko Readman and Johnny 5
Re: Screen Readers for VI Grannyputer
« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2012, 09:54:20 pm »
Jaded - that makes sense, why learn twice when you can learn once.. Blind folk have to DO ALL THE LEARNING, which is hard bloody boring work.

Kim sums up Adobe PDFs.  Tagging in InDesign ftw.  I hear Office 2010 does a MUCH better job of converting to PDF accessibly cos of new built in stuff.  Sadly I refuse to upgrade from 2003 till they give me menus back instead of the monstrous graphical-death ribbon from hell.   And yes, a plain text option is often preferred.  My colleague Patrick prefers word/RTf to PDF if he can get it cos he can jump headers better in word - he likes styles with L1, L2, L3 etc headings cos in JAWS he can list all headings and skimover document and jump to specific bit.  Shame styles is so buggy and shit and craps all over the formatting in Word :(

Full version of acrobat is a useful investment if you're blind, v10 is pretty decent, it will OCR image PDFs much better than v9 and allows you to save PDFs out as Word/text etc etc