HomeTechnologyHow screen reading apps can change your digital world

How screen reading apps can change your digital world

In modern society, being able to clearly and easily understand digital communications is essential. Accessibility is paramount, especially for older individuals who may face challenges with vision impairment.

Screen-reading apps can serve as an indispensable tool for those who find it hard to read the text on their phone or computer, offering enhanced accessibility to digital content across various devices.

These apps convert text displayed on screens into audio speech output, enabling users to navigate websites, emails, documents, and more.

Why you might want to consider a screen-reading app

As you get older, problems with your eyes and vision such as macular degeneration and presbyopia (age-related farsightedness) become more prevalent. Screen-reading apps bridge the accessibility gap by audibly conveying on-screen content, empowering older users to stay connected and informed.

With the help of screen-reading apps, older people can maintain their independence in navigating digital platforms. They can read emails, access online resources, and engage with technology without relying heavily on assistance from others.

The digital world also plays a significant role in modern social interactions. Screen-reading apps enable you to participate in online conversations, connect with loved ones through social media, and engage in virtual communities, fostering a sense of belonging and inclusion.

What to look for in a screen reading app

Ensure that your app is compatible with the device you intend to use it on, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Compatibility with the operating system of your device, such as iOS, Android, and Windows is crucial.

Look for easy-to-use interfaces and customisable settings that cater to the user’s preferences and proficiency level. Features like adjustable speech rate, voice options, and gesture-based navigation can really enhance usability for older individuals.

Opt for screen-reading apps that offer broad support for different file formats, web browsers, and applications. Versatility is key here, allowing users to access a wide range of digital content effortlessly.

Choose reputable screen-reading apps backed by regular updates, responsive customer support, and robust community forums or resources. Reliability ensures a seamless user experience and timely assistance in case of technical issues.

Best screen reading apps

VoiceOver (iOS)

One of the best reading apps out there comes preinstalled on Apple devices. VoiceOver offers comprehensive screen reading capabilities across various applications and services. It supports external Braille displays and includes features such as Touch Typing and Braille Screen Input.

TalkBack (Android)

Android phones also come with their own screen reading application preinstalled. Google’s TalkBack is a feature-rich reader that provides spoken feedback and navigation assistance, making Android smartphones and tablets accessible to older users with visual impairments.

Talkback can also be used to navigate your device itself, by slowly dragging one finger around the screen. As you drag your finger, TalkBack will announce icons, buttons, and other items.

TalkBack can also suggest actions for you, such as how to activate or view content. When you find an item you want, double tap anywhere on the screen to select it.

NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access, PC)

NVDA is a free, open-source screen reader for PCs running Windows 7 or later and offers robust support for web browsing, document reading, and application usage. It works well with popular programs like Microsoft Office and also has Braille display compatibility.

NVDA supports all the popular web browsers including Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, email clients, internet chat software, music players, and office programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel.

Speechify (iOS and Android)

A popular screen reader available for both Apple and Android phones, as well as PCs and Macs, Speechify allows you to copy and paste text from anywhere on the web into the app to have it translated and read aloud to you in seconds.

The app was developed by Cliff Weitzman, who has dyslexia, as a way to make the internet more accessible to him and reduce his stress levels.

Speechify offers a basic free version of its app that comes with just the screen reading function. There is also a paid version ($139 per year) that’s packed with extra features such as celebrity voices, the ability to take pictures of text to have it translated and different reading speeds.

Crucially, both the free and paid versions of Speechify will run on smartphones, but only the paid version will work on PCs and Macs.

Screen reading apps can play a pivotal role in improving digital accessibility for older people, which helps empower older individuals to use digital technology with confidence and independence.

Have you ever used a screen reading app? Did you find it helpful? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: How to use Find My Device on iPhone and Android

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyerhttps://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/bradlockyer/
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.
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