Screen readers and text helpers
Technology which can help people with disabilities use the web
Screen reading software can often be of great facility to users with ID in supporting limited literacy, additional to mitigating the affect of visual impairment.
We have yet to come across a user with significant ID capable of using full-featured interfaces such as JAWS or WindowsEyes, since the technical competencies and literacy required to access such applications are considerable.
Nonetheless, it is likely that sites tested or developed with facilitation of these applications in mind are likely to provide a better experience for users relying on more basic text helpers.
Simpler applications, working transparently to convert text-to-speech and providing more selective announcement of semantic elements, are likely to be the most effective solutions for ID users.
Provision of text-to-speech server-side may also be a preferred solution for developers, particularly if a predictable, testable and consistent approach is required for their audience.
Numerous text-helper and server-side tools exist, some of which are free to end users. The most common we have encountered are summarised on the text-to-speech applications page.