Augmentative communication devices and assistive technology help people with disabilities to communicate at work, school, and home
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Technology can be very expensive, but here you will find mostly free assistive technology and augmentative communication devices available free on the Web.
If you can't get it free, here is information on applying for funding for assistive technology.
A BIG thank you for contributions from my friend Bob in Winsted, Connecticut!
This page is devoted to assistive technology for communications and augmentative communication devices. We have another page with a many other free assistive technology.
Assistive Technology and Augmentative Communication Devices
http://www.wordtalk.org.uk/ For people with reading and writing difficulties, having text reinforced by hearing it read aloud can be very useful. WordTalk is a free plug-in developed for use with all versions of Microsoft Word, which can help people with reading difficulties. It will speak the text of the document and will highlight it as it goes. It contains a talking dictionary to help decide which word spelling is most appropriate.
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http://www.aacinstitute.org AAC Keys is a keyboard and mouse emulation program for Microsoft Windows-based and Macintosh computers. AAC Keys receives commands through your computer's serial port and translates them into keystrokes and mouse moves, giving you full control of your computer from another device.
The vOICe Learning Edition - Synthetic vision software for Microsoft Windows is "an experimental system for auditory image representations, intended to provide synthetic vision to the totally blind." - http://www.artificialvision.com/winvoice.htm
The vOICe Learning Edition translates arbitrary video images from a regular PC camera into sounds. This means that you can see with your ears, whenever you want to. Now step beyond your computer screen and screen reader and try this camera-based "scene reader". With a notebook PC you can even go mobile. How well you can learn to see with your ears is something that only you can find out, but now you can indeed find out and learn through this Learning Edition software, for free! It is hoped that seeing with sound will not only find many practical uses, but that extensive usage may also lead to visual experiences that truly have the distinctive subjective "feel" of vision.
There are many clipboard readers available, but they don't offer any control of the reading. The most versatile of these readers is Saypad - http://inspiredcode.net/4VisImp.htm. This actually gives complete control of the curser, allowing reading by line, word, or even letter, forward and backward. The other TTS apps need sight to use them, while Saypad can be completely operated by a sightless person, speaking all the menus, a truly unique feature. Like Natural Reader, Saypad is a word processor and can create MP3 files of any text. It uses the MS Sam SAPI 5 voice or can also install MS Mike and Mary. Someone who needs a text reader really shouldn't have to experiment with dozens of different apps until he finds the right one. That could be an extremely difficult experience, even for someone who is computer literate. And highlighting text is difficult and awkward if the screen can't be seen.
http://www.ablelink.org/ Ability OnLine "is a friendly
and safe computer friendship network where children and youth with disabilities or chrome illnesses connect to each
other as well as to their friends, family members, caregivers and supporters."
http://www.yackpack.com/ YackPack is simple, web-based voice messaging for groups. For younger or cognitively challenged people this would be absolutely ideal - it's a closed and controlled system... click on the *PHOTO* of the person you want to email, click on the BIG button to record, then click on the BIG button to send. It really is an amazing system and just ideal for people who are able to talk but who have difficulty with functional typing or writing.
Skype is a program for making free calls over the internet to anyone else who also has Skype: http://www.skype.com/ (Google ginail and yahoo messenger all allow for full telephone conversations over the web - a benefit for people with physically disabilities.)
http://www.free2u.org/freeware/system_utilities/tools_for_disabled/click-n-type_speech_package.html Click-N-Type Speech is more than just fun, Typing Sounds provide audible feedback, you may select one of the "Spoken Keys" options, as well as normal typewriter sounds. The feature "speaks" the keys back to you, letting you know you've hit the correct key and documentation on how to create "Spoken Keys" is included with the Click-N-Type help file, so people can create their own.
Optical character recognition
I'm presently checking out a new complete screen reader, called NonVisual Desktop Access, NVDA. http://www.nvda-project.org/ This looks very promising and, even now, is a very useful program. It requires no installation, just unzipping into a folder and running it.
Another recent free screen reader is called Thunder. http://www.screenreader.net/index.php?pageid=11§ion=Thunder
Non Visual Desktop Access - Rick Harmon describes the advantages and disadvantages of this screen reader, talks about cababilities,and demonstrates the free, open source screen reader called Non Visual Desktop Access - http://media.libsyn.com/media/bct/bct1020NonVisualDesktopAccess.mp3
Hear demonstrations of NVDA and Thunder - podcasts can be streamed or downloaded from:http://www.blindcooltech.com
For $5 a month you can have access to: over 2,150 signs, Baby Sign, International Sign, Stock Trader Sign, Animal Sign sections and Sign Stories Articles at http://www.handspeak.com
AIJS Lesson tutor: http://www.lessontutor.com/ASLgenhome.html
Audio formatting --a technique pioneered by AsTeR-- and full support for W3C's Aural CSS (ACSS) allows Emacspeak to produce rich aural presentations of electronic information. By seamlessly blending all aspects of the Internet such as Web-surfing and messaging, Emacspeak speech-enables local and remote information via a consistent and well-integrated user interface.
Available free of cost on the Internet, Emacspeak has dramatically changed how the author and hundreds of blind and visually impaired users around the world interact with the personal computer and the Internet. A rich suite of task-oriented tools provides efficient speech-enabled access to the audio desktop and evolving semantic WWW.
E-Speaking is free for you to download and use. e-Speaking includes over 100 pre-defined commands. If you wish
to add, edit, or delete commands from e-Speaking, you will need to purchase a license to activate that part of the
Text to Speech
Talk-To-Me for Windows. Will read your E-Mail, Instant Messages, web pages, letters and documents. Send Animated Messages to friends. Greet you daily with the date, time, and a personal message and set alarms to remind you ofevents. http://www.talk-to-rne.net
Mac Users try Text-Edit Plus is a styled text editor that fills the gap between Apple's bare bones SimpleText and a full-featured word processor. http://www.tex-edit.com
Natural Voice Reader - software that converts text into voice. Reads text directly from other applications, without copying or pasting. Can also convert text files into MP3 or WAV files for use on portable devices like iPod, CD players and PocketPCs. http://www.naturalreaders.com
CyberBuddy at http://www.thecyberbuddy.com has Microsoft Agents that are animated characters that can move around the screen and talk to you. Keep reminders and get your attention when a reminder is due, Instant Message (like TCQ) with speech and animation, Send Voice Messages and more.