Talking Tech update: In-built screen reader and magnifier software

28 January 2022

“You do not need a Mercedes Benz to drive to the train station.”

That’s what Vision Australia’s national advisor on access technology, David Woodbridge has to say when talking about assistive technology options.

The cost of buying purpose built products for users who are blind or have low vision can be overwhelming. The most popular screen reader software, JAWS, costs upwards of $1400, and while well worth the money, for some it is just not feasible.

But, there are many free or in-built options in popular technology or gadgets that do the job.

“Sometimes you don't need the brightest and the most expensive hardware or software out there,” David said on the latest episode of Talking Tech.

All major technology companies, including Microsoft Windows, Apple and Android have screen reader and screen magnifier software in-built with their products.

Whether you have an iPad, a laptop or a smartphone, you can get by with the basic everyday complexities of the school or work day.

“This stuff will get you by, particularly for things like just reading emails, doing notes, searching websites,” David said.

“Where the more expensive software bits kick in is when you have to use fairly ugly third party applications or websites where the more expensive screen reader and screen magnifier come into their own.”           

The table below names all the in-built screen reader and screen magnifier software available:

  Windows Mac/iOS Android
Inbuilt screen reader Narrator VoiceOver Talkback
Inbuilt screen magnifier Magnifier Zoom Magnifier

Listen to the full interview with David Woodbridge on in-built screen reader and magnifier software in the player below:

For some more products that can be useful for students returning back to school, see the Back to School or Work catalogue (opens to PDF) from the Vision Store.

Hear more tech tips from a blind and low vision perspective every week on Talking Tech, Tuesday 4.30pm AEST or catch up with the podcast via Spotify, Omny, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts.