Alternatives to JAWS (Job Access With Speech)

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Many people with visual impairments or blindness rely on JAWS to use their computers more easily. Are there any better options? Let's discuss the alternatives.

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Many people with visual impairments or blindness rely on JAWS to use their computers more easily. However, are there any better options?

Let’s discuss the alternatives to JAWS.

What is JAWS?

JAWS (Job Access With Speech) is a screen reader specifically designed for people with vision impairments or disabilities. This assistive technology helps them navigate and interact with display content more easily. Optical character recognition (OCR) technology can even turn images and graphics into text for easier consumption.

JAWS also works with Freedom Scientific refreshable braille displays. Once you combine the two technologies, you get an interactive platform for learning braille.

It also offers speech output for many Apple iOS and Microsoft Windows apps. It’s compatible with most web browsers, too, including Internet Explorer.

As one of the most popular screen reader solutions, JAWS enables users to:

  • Read apps, websites, emails and Microsoft Office documents

  • Navigate more easily with a mouse

  • Scan and read PDFs

  • Fill out web forms on Mac PCs

  • Facilitate Daisy-formatted basic training

  • Use Linux-compatible reading software

  • Save time with Text Analyzer and Skim Reading

  • Surf the net more easily with accessible browsing keystrokes

The JAWS alternatives

Although JAWS works great, it’s not the only computer screen reader. There are several alternatives you might want to test:

NVDA

NVDA (Non-Visual Desktop Access) enables vision-impaired and blind individuals to access Windows and other third-party applications. The platform supports many popular programs, such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, email clients, music players, Microsoft Word and chat software.

Another impressive feature of this Windows screen reader is the integrated speech synthesizer. It works with more than 50 languages and third-party voices.

You can also configure the system to automatically announce your text under the mouse. This expedites your workflow.

Finally, you can run NVDA from your USB drive or other portable platforms without installing it, turning any PC more accessible quicker.

Microsoft Narrator Screen Reader

Microsoft Narrator Screen Reader is a built-in Windows 10 and 11 app. Therefore, you don’t need to download and install this program if you have one of these. You already have system access, and online tutorials can help you locate the tool.

Narrator allows you to use your Windows computer without the mouse and complete tasks despite low vision or blindness. The platform interacts with display content, such as buttons and text, to browse the web, process documents, and read or write emails.

Navigating the interface is simple regardless of headings, landmarks, links and other elements. Narrator can read your text by paragraph, page, word, line, sentence and character. It can also determine text color, font and many other characteristics.

Working with tables is easy with Narrator. The program can efficiently review your tables using robust column and row navigation.

Lastly, users can customize the volume, pitch and speaking rate of the reader voice. The platform is compatible with many text to speech voices.

ZoomText

ZoomText is a fully functional reading and magnification program for low-vision computer users. It enhances and enlarges the content on your display, echoes critical program activity and typing, and reads your emails, web pages and documents automatically.

If you purchase a perpetual license and set it up with a Software Maintenance Agreement, you receive all updates for many years.

Some of the most impressive features of ZoomText include Picture Smart and Vocalizer Expressive Voices. Plus, you can zoom in and out with multiple zoom levels. There are even custom zoom levels, enabling you to adjust the platform to your preferences.

Android TalkBack

Android TalkBack is a high-quality screen reader incorporated into Android devices. Like VoiceOver, ChromeVox, and other similar apps, it provides eyes-free control of your device.

The ability to explore by touch might be the highlight of this app. As you slowly drag your finger across the display, the platform announces buttons, icons and all other items.

It might even suggest certain actions, such as how to view or activate content. Once you find the desired feature, select it by double-tapping on your screen.

Additionally, the system enables you to customize reading controls according to these criteria:

  • Characters

  • Words

  • Lines

  • Paragraphs

  • Heading

  • Controls

Moreover, you can work quickly with Android TalkBack by changing the speech rate. Slow the voices down or speed them up to maximize your productivity.

Also, you can alternate between different languages in real time, depending on how many languages your device supports.

Adding or removing items from reading controls is another useful feature. Here are the items you can manipulate:

  • Landmarks

  • Verbosity

  • Default navigation

  • Audio ducking

  • Hide screen

Speechify

Speechify is text to speech software that uses cutting-edge synthesizing technology. It converts digital writing into easy-to-understand audio. This program allows you to convert text on any document or web page and have it read aloud, so your visual disability is no longer an obstacle.

Speechify can dramatically increase the productivity of visually impaired individuals through multitasking. You can use it to listen to documents while performing other tasks. Whether you’re cooking dinner or cleaning your house, you won’t be distracted from your Speechify content.

The app is also perfect if you’re a fast listener. You can accelerate the AI-generated natural-sounding voices to enhance your workflow without compromising sound quality and speech legibility.

When it comes to supported formats, Speechify is compatible with practically any file. You can listen to text from PDFs, documents, articles, emails and many other sources.

On top of that, Speechify works on all major operating systems and mobile devices, including iPhones, Android smartphones, iPads, macOS X and Windows. You can even use it as a Safari or Google Chrome extension.

Try Speechify for free today

If you want to get a taste of the best speech synthesis technology around, try Speechify for free today. Millions of individuals with visual disabilities rely on the program’s high-quality services.

FAQ

Does JAWS have a speech viewer?

JAWS has a built-in speech viewer. To open it, right-click the inspect tray icon or press Shift+F10. Navigate the menu and press “Speech Viewer” to start your session.

What is the most popular reading system for the blind?

The most popular reading system for the blind is JAWS.

What is the most commonly used software by a visually impaired person?

Visually impaired persons most commonly used JAWS for better computer accessibility. NVDA is another popular choice. It’s an open-source screen reader optimized for Microsoft.

What is a screen reader?

A screen reader is technology that assists people with vision impairments. It converts images, text and buttons into braille or speech.

What is the difference between a screen reader and a magnifier?

On the one hand, screen readers convert display elements into speech. On the other hand, screen magnifiers only zoom in on the display to make it easier to see.

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