What is a Screen Reader? – Freedom Scientific
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What is a Screen Reader?


A screen reader is a software program that allows blind and low vision individuals to read the content on a computer screen with a voice synthesizer or braille display. The screen reader is the interface between the user and the computer operating system and its applications.

How does a screen reader work?

JAWS Software

The screen reader converts text into speech or braille. Users are notified of text, images, buttons, and other elements on the screen. The user simply uses a different combinations of key stroke commands to instruct the screen reader to read a line of text, a string of text, announce the location of the cursor, read dialog boxes and so on.

There are two ways in which a screen reader can covey information. The first is through Text-to-Speech. With this method the screen reader program translates the on-screen information into speech that can be listened to via computer speakers or headphones. The second way in which the screen reader can provide the information is through an external device known as a refreshable braille display. A refreshable braille display contains one or more rows of cells and each cell can form the shape of a braille letter. As the information on the screen changes, the screen reader informs the braille display to change.

Since most users are not able to navigate with a mouse. keyboard commands are used instead. These commands can include opening a document, reading documents, navigating web pages, and opening and closing programs. For example, with the JAWS screen reader you would use ALT and the Left Arrow key at the same time to go back a page.

Freedom Scientific’s JAWS, Job Access With Speech, is the world’s most popular screen reader, developed for computer users whose vision loss prevents them from seeing screen content or navigating with a mouse. JAWS provides speech and Braille output for the most popular computer applications on your PC. You will be able to navigate the Internet, write a document, read an email, and create presentations from your office, the classroom, or from home.

Learn more about JAWS at home, at school or at work.

JAWS is now available in kiosks across the globe thanks to our sister company The Paciello Group (TPG). TPG helps to make kiosks accessible through a kiosk-specific version of JAWS screen reader software and accessibility consulting for both the digital kiosk application and physical kiosk design because hardware and software must work seamlessly to create a user experience that is accessible across the spectrum of disability needs.

Learn more about JAWS Kiosks