Dealing With Vision Loss

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Dealing With Vision Loss Exceprt

COMPUTERS AND YOU

If you look at the resources section of this book you will find that the two most listed items are places to get bibles and places to get computer software and related materials. Bibles are probably self-explanatory. Computers? Computers are or can be as important to those who have vision limitations as they are to most sighted folks.

More and more, computers are becoming the main method of communications for everyone. There are cell phones with speech output as well as email and internet capabilities. There are hand-held and portable computers available and there are laptops and desk tops available, too. With the myriad of types of computers ever growing, it’s easy to understand how important they are, not only to the business man or individual working in an office, but to the individual who is at home and wants to be able to access the newspaper that you used to receive on a daily or weekly basis at your front door or email from your kids halfway across the country. This is also true for those of us with vision limitations as well.

First of all you have to decide whether you want to continue to make use of your computer and second, how important is that access to you. The third thing for you to decide is whether you are willing to take the next step, which is deciding to use modified software to use your computer? Are you tired of having your nose pressed to the screen to be able to read that email or those icons on the screen? If you still want access to that information then you are going to have to change your method of interpreting that data. You have two choices, large print or talking software.

If you are still able to easily make use of large print then you need a program which will modify the size of the print and icons which appear on the screen. There are at least three of these programs. I will list them here, but I will not even begin to tell you the positives and negatives of any of them. Please understand though, that the more you increase the magnification of these programs, the less room you will have on the screen. Thus, by magnifying the size of the information, you are in effect reducing the amount of information you can display on the screen at one time. Keep in mind that one of these programs, Zoom-Text allows for the use of speech output, so you can get a speech output back-up to what you are seeing on the screen. The programs are Big Shot, Zoom-Text and Magic.

If you are experiencing a great deal of frustration while trying to read the screen while making use of a large print/screen magnification program then perhaps you need to decide to make use of talking software. The two most widely used packages are GW Micro’s Window-Eyes or Freedom Scientific’s Jaws. You might want to go to their respective web sites and download their demo programs in order to help you determine which one you might like to purchase. Both of these programs produce high quality speech output of information that will appear in print on the screen of your computer. These programs are equally good; although some people will tell you that one or the other of them works better than the other depending on the application, but on the whole, they both work equally well with standard programs like Word and Outlook or Outlook Express. Check with other users in your area to help you in making your decision or go to their respective web sites and download demo’s of each and use them for a while. Again, other users can prove to be invaluable resources in assisting you in configuring your computer to best make use of either of these programs.

As to whether or not the rehabilitation agency in your state will purchase talking or large print software for you, the answer is that in most cases if the need for the software will allow you to function or continue to function in a job, the answer is yes. If the need for talking software or large print software is for home use then the answer is probably no. There is one other exception and that is if you need the software in order to complete school assignments, say for college. In that case, you may find yourself the recipient of a new computer, needed software and extra large monitor if you can justify it, again, either for school or job.

If you are diligent and look on the internet you may be able to find grant programs to assist you in your purchase of needed software. Another avenue is to ask Lions clubs in your area to assist you in your purchase. The state of Missouri has a program from which one can purchase large print or talking software which will allow one to access the internet, but that program is only for residents of Missouri. You might also check to see if the NFB or ACB affiliates in your state have a low interest loan program to assist in the purchase of needed technology. Whatever you decide, or whichever software you decide to use, it’s got to be a lot less frustration than sitting there wishing your vision was better so you could still use your computer

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