I managed to sort things out with the Editor of the RNIB NB magazine and the following Right of Reply will appear in the October issue.
My Right to Reply – 246 Words.
LOW AND NO COST SCREENREADERS FOR BLIND PEOPLE AT HOME
Full marks to NB for publicising the growing availability of affordable access software for home computer users after years of high priced options only.
But I felt that the article in last month’s NB was somewhat flawed in its methodology and left readers still not able to pick a winner for their own purpose. So I hope the following summary clarifies matters All three packages were given the thumbs up, are user-friendly and will cope with MS Word, Notepad, Emails, the internet, live and listen again radio, as well as podcasts and RSS news feeds which were not mentioned. Minimal tuition is required for all three and there is plenty of help and training manual material.
Thunder and System Access can be run on the modern Windows Vista but not Mercury.
There is a magnification option with Mercury and WebbIE on the internet but not with System Access.
Regarding pricing, System Access starts at £210.00 plus £70.00 p.a. No price was given for Mercury but I understand it to be something over £800, but including the PC so the software might be £400. Thunder is free for home use but priced at £159 on a memory stick or for commercial use.
All in all it’s a great time for the man or woman in the street to get to know what a talking computer can do to improve their lives and independence.
I have spent a few days out in Estonia in Tallinn as part of our European Partners’ project to translate Thunder into other languages. So we now have German, Italian, Estonian, Slovak and French well on the way.
We shall be starting on a new project very soon to create a version of Thunder which will be usable by people with learning disabilities. We have received a generous grant from the Esme Fairbairn Charitable Trust and are currently gathering information as well as planning the detail of the user-friendly Thunder interface.
Lastly, If you want to meet up with us, why not come along to the London Techshare Exhibition and Conference at the Hammersmith Novatel on 4th or 5th October between 10 and 5. Screenreadaer.net is on Stand 42 and we will be proudly strutting our stuff. You will be amazed just how easy it is to enjoy many excellent resources with Thunder and WebbIE.
One thing more. I have received three Blind Blogger responses saying how difficult it is to comment on this blog. I am very sorry about this but the fact is that I don’t fully understand the technology and so can’t work out an easy accessible way for readers to respond. But I am working on it.