Blind Inventors Develop Computer Tool

SYDNEY, Oct. 5 (UPI) — Two blind Australian inventors have developed a way for the blind to access and use computers without needing presently expensive technology, observers say.

Faced with the prospect of spending upwards of $1,000 to buy specialized “screen reader” software, Queensland University of Technology graduate James Teh and business partner Michael Curran developed a free program called NVDA, or NonVisual Desktop Access, which provides a synthetic voice to read the words on a computer screen as the cursor moves over them, a QUT release says.

Teh, who majored in software engineering, said most blind students typically don’t have the funds to purchase screen reader technology at the period in their life when they most need it.

“We really are in the information age — everything is online these days,” Teh said. “So access to computers for the blind and vision impaired is incredibly important, which is why we wanted our software to be free.”

NVDA can be downloaded on to anyone’s personal computer free of charge.

“It can also be copied to a USB stick, which can be used on any PC at school or university, with no installation required,” Teh said.

Teh and Curran have used their own experiences as blind computer users to develop a product with innovative features.

For example, as the mouse cursor moves up and down the screen, a small beeping sound becomes higher and lower in pitch to let you know where the cursor is located.

NVDA has been translated into 27 languages, thanks to volunteer translators, and has already been downloaded more than 50,000 times.

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Categorized | Engineering, Other
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