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New Apple screen reader

Filed in: accessibility, Apple, tech, Wed, Mar 17 2004 16:45 PT

Apple's Universal Access icon

Apple has announced Spoken Interface, a screen reader for Mac OS X. This will be the first to be released, since Alva gave up on its screen reader project in 2003. And it will be free, bundled with the operating system. Spoken Interface was featured in BusinessWeek yesterday. It’ll be in the next major release of OS X.

I have been saying for the last year or so that when the time comes to replace this PowerBook, if Mac OS X didn’t have a viable screen reader, I would have a hard time as an accessibility-related speaker buying in again, despite my undying love for my operating system. It looks like I might not have to choose. I’m going to go check it out and report back today.

The result: cost for an accessible operating system and screen reader from Apple? $129. From Microsoft? $99 for XP Home, plus $895 for JAWS Standard, or $595 for Window-Eyes Standard. I’d say that’s a win. And when Gnopernicus is ready for prime-time, the cost goes down to zero. The zero-cost screen reader is the next big step for universal access. I’m hoping that, er, other vendors get the point.

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