ZoomText and other accessibility software

While this blog’s primary focus is the academic software installed on public computers in the UA Libraries, we occasionally highlight other library and campus services and spaces at the intersection of academics and technology.

This week, the Office of Library Technology, along with the Office of Disability Services and the Center for Instructional Technology, offered workshops on ZoomText and other accessibility software available in the Libraries as well as accessibility options built into the Windows 7 and Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) operating systems.

ODS and CIT recently began a campus-wide rollout of the ZoomText magnification and screen reading software for Windows, encouraging departments to install it on all public computers to ensure widespread distribution across campus. The Libraries are one of the first areas to do so, making ZoomText available on all of the computers in the Gorgas Library Instruction Room (104 Gorgas) and, following final exams, deploying it to all Dell desktops in Gorgas, Hoole, McLure, and Rodgers libraries.

OLT Software Specialist Gina Dykeman provided these descriptions of the accessibility software available in the Libraries:

ZoomText is a screen reader and magnifying application, designed to assist people with a visual impairment. There are enhancements to adjust the color, pointer, cursor, and focus. The screen reader has a lot of keyboard shortcuts, including those shown on the left, but it isn’t a dedicated screen reader.

JAWS is a screen reader application, designed to assist people who are blind or visually impaired. Jaws can reads out the user’s exact location on the computer; it will also inform the user what program they are using, and exactly how to use it. The user can also navigate between programs and files by listening to instructions.

NaturalReader is text-to-speech software which can convert text, including Word documents, web pages, PDF files, and emails. Its floating bar allows the user to select any text and press a hotkey to activate the software.

GOODFEEL, Lime, and SharpEye are braille music reading and editing software from Dancing Dots. GOODFEEL converts printed scores into Braille music; Lime allows sighted musicians to  manipulate conventional onscreen music notation and save a file which can be opened by GOODFEEL; and SharpEye can be used to scan and convert printed music for Lime, Finale, or Sibelius.

Persons interested in learning more about Windows and Mac accessibility might start here:

Information about technology accessibility at The University of Alabama, links to UA resources, and more is available at http://accessibility.ua.edu.

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