What is a screen reader?

A screen reader is a piece of software which reads web pages and documents out loud. Originally developed for persons who were visually impaired, it is now often used for a multitude of other reasons. Many who may have learning challenges, concussion syndrome, or those who simply want to listen to their email or a web page while they do something else use screen readers.

All Apple products have VoiceOver built in – from iPhones to Mac desktops. Some Android devices have TalkBack. Windows users often use tools like JAWS (available on our public machines), and NVDA.

If you are curious about how a blind person uses a screen reader feel free to watch – its pretty impressive.

In addition to screen readers, there are “hybrid” software available for those who do not need all the features of a screen reader but still need to listen to content. Here at Swarthmore, we have a campus wide license for Read, Write & Gold. Read, Write & Gold can be downloaded from the ITS download page, is free for all to use and can be used on a Mac or PC. This is the tool many of our students with learning disabilities also use.  The Beginners Guide for Window Users and the Quick start Guide for Mac Users will be helpful if you want to play with this tool.