By FABRIZIO SCARDOVI

(English) ROME – There are many of the 270.000 blind Italians who would legitimately like to log-on Internet, but this is not at all easy even though there are software products which can help. At the moment, there are mainly two essential devices for blind Internet users:  the screen reader with a vocal synthesis or the translator on the Braille display and the OCR on computer with a scanner.  The bad side is the price, because most of the auxiliaries for blind persons cost more than the computer itself, even though there are free open source offers.  The UIC states that:  ” With regards to free screen readers, we have Linux which supplies Orca and Windows which supplies NVDA, but they are not equal to those bought like the Jaws software.”

There are also softwares for Mac.  Apart from the new accessible iTunes version, there is also VisioVoice.  However, the e-reader which is included needs to be upgraded for the Italian version and therefore has to be bought separately.  iBraille freeware, a Swedish product, is one of the translators.  The OCR system is another solution for deciphering the captcha and also the Firefox plug-in, WebVisum. But the problems remain.

The portable Alva 544 Satellite Traveller regarding the Braille display costs 2.580 Euro whereas, a printer costs at least 700 Euro.  A very delicate topic, so much so that in the year 2000 the OSI decided to found the Websites Observatory.  Their highly qualified technicians are trying to make the webmasters understand the problems that blind and low vision persons have and thereby certify, when possible, that the site conforms to the access for visual handicaps and, most of all, to the 4/2004 Act which, up to now, has been disregarded.

Nunziante Esposito, a blind person who is part of the OSI Commission, supplies computer technology assistance together with other seven volunteers at the toll free number (+39)800682682 of the UIC to those who ask for help.

He is the right person who answers to the most common and urgent questions.

Which are the most used Screen Readers?  “It depends on the quality and service.  There is Jaws and Windows Eyes for Windows and Hal for Dolphin.”  What is the Braille display?  “It is a sort of touch screen with electromechanical input and output functions which reproduce the characters on the desktop in Braille based on the instructions that highlight lines, characters, the beginning and the end of a page and the objects on the screen.”  Which is the most operative between a screen reader with a synthesiser and one with a board?  “I use the synthesiser because it’s just a question of what I’m used to.”

At the moment, the OSI technicians are trying the functions of the Linux system.  Are there any Screen Readers which are compatible the operation system?  One of the volunteers, Alessandro Rubini, explains:  “Installation of the Braille board can be done, with the newest apps, directly by the blind person because the system recognises and programs automatically.  Please note that most GNU/Linux devices have always been available in text format which makes the use of the board easier.”

ORIGINAL LINK: http://www.repubblica.it/2009/06/sezioni/tecnologia/web-braille/web-braille/web-braille.html?ref=search