Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Blind inventors develop free software to enable the blind to use computers

Date:
October 9, 2010
Source:
Queensland University of Technology
Summary:
Inventors have developed free, open-source software to enable blind people to use computers. For many blind people, computers are inaccessible. It can cost upwards of $1000 to purchase "screen reader" software, but two blind computer programmers have solved this problem.

For many blind people, computers are inaccessible. It can cost upwards of $1000 to purchase "screen reader" software, but two blind computer programmers have solved this problem.

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) graduate James Teh and business partner Michael Curran developed a free, open-source program, called NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access), which provides a synthetic voice to read the words on a computer screen as the cursor moves over them.

The invention won the blind duo accolades in the grand final program of the ABC's show New Inventors, which aired on September 23. They took home the "Les* is More" award, for an invention that "might make a real difference to people's lives or the environment."

"A sighted person takes for granted that they can sit down at any computer and use it," Mr Teh said.

"We really are in the information age -- everything is online these days. So access to computers for the blind and vision impaired is incredibly important, which is why we wanted our software to be free."

Mr Teh, who majored in software engineering at QUT, said blind students typically didn't have the funds to purchase screen reader technology, at the time in their life when they most needed it. Now NVDA could be downloaded on to anyone's personal computer free of charge.

"It can also be copied to a USB stick, which can be used on any PC at school or university, with no installation required," he said.

Mr Teh knows firsthand the obstacles that blind students face. Studying a Bachelor of Information Technology, many teaching materials involved visual diagrams. His studies were made a lot easier by QUT teachers including computer science lecturer Malcolm Corney, who prepared detailed descriptions of diagrams prior to lectures.

"Sometimes he would sit with me for up to an hour explaining visual materials," said Mr Teh.

Mr Teh and Mr Curran have drawn on their own experience as blind computer users to develop a product which has some unique and innovative features. For example, as the mouse moves up and down the screen, a small beeping sound becomes higher and lower in pitch to let you know where the cursor is located.

NVDA has been translated into 27 languages, thanks to volunteer translators.

To date, there have been over 50,000 downloads. With the number of blind and low vision Australians expected to double to 600,000 in ten years' time (according to Vision Australia), NVDA has the potential to impact a significant number of lives.

Mr Teh and Mr Curran have been working on the project since 2006. They worked on their product without remuneration for two years. When Mozilla offered some funding in 2008, Mr Teh was able to quit his day job and work full-time developing NVDA.

Mr Teh and Mr Curran have plenty of future plans, including touch screen options for the blind and vision impaired. While keen to maintain the independence and integrity of their products, the pair's continued success may depend on the availability of further funding.

NVDA can be downloaded from http://www.nvda-project.org/


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queensland University of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Queensland University of Technology. "Blind inventors develop free software to enable the blind to use computers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101005104450.htm>.
Queensland University of Technology. (2010, October 9). Blind inventors develop free software to enable the blind to use computers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101005104450.htm
Queensland University of Technology. "Blind inventors develop free software to enable the blind to use computers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101005104450.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Is your child ready? Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

U.S. Issues Ebola Travel Restrictions, Are Visa Bans Next?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) Now that the U.S. is restricting travel from West Africa, some are dropping questions about a travel ban and instead asking about visa bans. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
US to Track Everyone Coming from Ebola Nations

US to Track Everyone Coming from Ebola Nations

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) Stepping up their vigilance against Ebola, federal authorities said Wednesday that everyone traveling into the US from Ebola-stricken nations will be monitored for symptoms for 21 days. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctors Help Paralysed Man Walk Again, Patient in Disbelief

Doctors Help Paralysed Man Walk Again, Patient in Disbelief

AFP (Oct. 22, 2014) Polish doctors describe how they helped a paralysed man walk again, with the patient in disbelief at the return of sensation to his legs. Duration: 1:04 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins