Assistive Technology Software Programs

JAWS (Job Access With Speech) is a very user friendly program. JAWS provides a typing echo for keyboard input and a screen echo for system response. JAWS is quite comprehensive and very customizable. The program requires a system with a full duplex sound card for good speech results and the included software speech synthesizer sounds best with a sub woofer speaker system. There are four cursor pointers for navigating and exploring a window or web page. The level of feedback may be varied to suit ones taste and the help files are comprehensive. Out of the box, Jaws is easy to install and run. There is a keyboard manager listing keystrokes for all of the versions factory registered applications. Most JAWS keystrokes pivot on the Insert button. JAWS offers keystrokes for gathering information about cursor location, window title and text attributes. One complexity with JAWS is that the program designers do not remain consistent with keystroke assignments and feature availability through updated versions of JAWS, the anti-parallel is that there is always something new to learn. JAWS uses encrypted license keys.

Zoom Text Level 2 is a screen reading magnifier that allows keyboard and mouse pointer system control. There are full screen, split screen (horizontal or vertical), overlay and lens options. Magnification ranges from slight to very strong. Colors are invertible and a larger pointer is an option. A noteworthy feature is the DocReader that allows drag and drop text magnification with speech synthesized text reading. Zoom Text is straight forward to install and run and offers a good list of features and good help files.

Magic is a magnification program by the makers of Jaws. It has a user-friendly interface and excellent customization features. There are large cursor options and a great cross hair cursor.  Magic works well when used with Jaws. Magic uses encrypted license keys.

Kurzweil 1000 is a precise Optical Character Recognition with synthesized speech application. Kurzweil 1000 is for Windows and Kurzweil 3000 is for Macintosh. The program offers more than one OCR engine and a decent synthesizer. The program is very easy to install and has good scanner compatibility. Scanners are listed on the program designer’s web site.

In closing, it is important to state that various excellent unmentioned Assistive Technology applications exist for Windows family software as well as for some other operating systems. The programs mentioned are known to be useable by operators of all levels and to have decent learning curves as well as outstanding cost to functionality factors. The bottom line is that when the program helps it serves the purpose.

When research fails, feel free to send a brief E-mail to and I will assist as possible. ~Jon-Paul

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