Dear Internet, I'm helping an old man who's almost blind. His computer is really important to him, but he's losing what's left of his sight rapidly. He uses Windows on a normal PC. Can anyone recommend tools/settings/software I can help him try?

@greg_harvey NVDA, it's an open-source screen reader that I use for my tests and that is used by a lot of blind people.
Works on Windows.

Send him my best. It's a hard journey he's on.

@greg_harvey From what I hear, it's good to learn as soon as possible, as some notions are hard to grasp (like, in NVDA with Ins+F7 you can pop up a list of links, headings, form elements on a page, but it's in a standard Windows dialogue and NVDA lists it as a stacked tree, same as the left view in the File Explorer), and it's very verbose.

Also, my friends who went from seeing to blind said braille is sometimes efficient in complement / without the speech synthesis, which can be tiresome.

@greg_harvey Rephrasing that, sorry (I was trying to cream too much info in one toot).

Sometimes speech synthesis can be tiresome or get in your way (like when talking with someone, or listening to a radio or TV program), so my friends advise to also know braille and be able to use a braille display in conjunction and/or replacement to speech synthesis.

@greg_harvey Windows has a surprising number of accessibility settings and tools under the hood. I haven't had much experience with customers using them, so can't comment on their usefulness, but it never hurts to RTFM:

@proactiveservices Good point! Thanks, I'll take a look at what we can do right out of the box.


might be able to point you in the right kind of direction?

@greg_harvey For starting out, try Narrator. Windows + Control + Enter. If you go through the quick start guide, or the whole guide book thing, it should be rather easy to learn. Also, you can use the Windows Magnifier with Narrator, so that he can get more used to talking computers while still being able to fall back on the screen while he can. Do tell him to use his vision sparingly and to take the time to get used to a screen reader.

@devinprater Thank you, I definitely need to check out the magnifier. He's literally using an actual magnifying glass against the screen for some things. I went over to help him print something today and was like "You can't keep doing this..." 😬

@greg_harvey Ouch. Also, maybe reach out to your state/provential center for the blind. If you live in the US, your state's rehabilitation agency for the blind can possibly help with getting someone out there to train him if he needs things other than technology. Of course, they're not all useful but if you have access to that kind of thing, it's always a good idea to check. If tech is all he needs though, I'd be glad to help with anything else.

@devinprater We're in France, he has a local carer who's a very nice lady and provided by the government, but she doesn't know anything about these things. She called me! 😂 But I will see if there are any local groups, that's a good shout. Thanks again!

@greg_harvey @devinprater
That's a shame, I was going to suggest Ability net, a UK charity that specialise in this sort of thing.
However their website has lots of free resources and info, which might help.

@greg_harvey @devinprater

Faut voir avec ?
Ils sont un peu chers mais à ma connaissance ils sont compétents, et offrent un service complet (formation incluse). Et ils utilisent leur propre solution au quotidien, si j'ai bien compris.
Basé sur #Debian #Mate (what else ?).

@greg_harvey If he's the Siri kind of guy, you can use Amazon Alexa on Windows devices. I doubt Cortana is going to be that useful. if he's not already using the magnifier, getting it to run on startup might be helpful. I think you can set that in accessibility settings

@greg_harvey Yes. He should probably install NVDA on Windows, and perhaps get the NVDA training materials as an MP3 audio. Windows Magnifier is fully usable, and free, unlike Zoomtext and the like. DM me for more resources, but

@greg_harvey If he needs text-to-speech support, consider the #FOSS screen reader called NVDA. If it's magnification, he needs, I'm not sure whether there is a free one, but there is one called Zoom Text. #a11y HTH.

@greg_harvey probably no enough in that case, but setting the screen resolution VERY low kind of magnifies everything.

@pm98zz_c That's what he's doing already. Everything's huge, but he still can't see it, poor guy.

@greg_harvey Hi, another blind person here, offering to help out with whatever this guy might need. Can't come there in person, unfortunately, but if he ever needs help with NVDA we could communicate via email, voice chat, etc. I'm no professional teacher, but I know a fair number of tricks.
Also, if there's anything I can help with mental health-wise, I could try to listen and give advice as well -- losing sight is an incredibly traumatic experience, and many newly blind people have trouble using accessibility tools such as a screen reader or a white cane, because it'd mean admitting they're going blind and being seen by others. There are communities of felllow-minded people I can point him towards, although many of them would require at least being skilled enough with web navigation to use Discord or a forum (
Also, if he ever wants to try out audio games, I can suggest some too! Not as useful, maybe, but lots of fun.

@Mayana Thank you! I'll see how he goes, he isn't great on the mental health side as he's an old guy and sadly lost his wife in the middle of all this as well, but he's also really bad at accepting help around things that he considers he should "man up" about. He's of his generation, as my wife says... 😬 In any case, thank you for the suggestions. I can only drop some ideas into conversation. You never know, some might stick.

@greg_harvey JAWS. Depending where you live the government may subsidise or cover the cost. Windows comes with narrator but it’s not great. It works ok. Also while he has sight he could use MAGic to see and hear at the same time and get used to the keyboard nav and the speech. Or windows magnifier.

@ikora Thanks! I've heard of JAWS but never actually used it..

@greg_harvey it does take some practice. My blind colleagues recommended starting by simply removing the mouse and trying to use the computer with keyboard only. Sometimes you’ll find things very tedious that way. JAWS can sometimes help make it less so. Still keyboard based, but honestly more efficient use of the computer if only software companies would make things more accessible. Good luck and let me know if you have questions :)

Sign in to participate in the conversation

Generic Mastodon instance hosted by the FairSocialNet association.