Assistive technology in the workplace

After several interviews, you finally received some good news: a job offer. You gladly accept the position.

If you report to an actual office building, you might need a new outfit or two and a lunchbox. What about doing your job? You’ll need to think about the specific technology you’ll use to perform the tasks associated with your position. Perhaps you discussed the assistive technology for the blind you use during your interview. Here are some softwares and apps that could assist you.

Screen readers, such as those offered by freedom scientific, Serotek Corporation and NVDA, will translate the text on the screen, reading it aloud. Users can also edit and create documents, surf the Internet and compose emails.

If you like reading and writing braille, the Mantis Q40 from The American Printing House For The Blind could be for you. Its price tag is one that might cause a second glance, but this device allows you to switch seamlessly from working on a mobile device to your computer. The Q40 isn’t just a braille display like the suite of displays available from  Humanware, it also contains a Perkins-style braille keyboard. Orbit Research has a suite of notetakers that can be paired with a mobile device, a computer or used on its own to read books and take notes.

However, if you don’t want or need a braille display, but wish to type in braille, the Orbit Writer Braille Keyboard is an option. This Perkins-style keyboard can be connected to a computer or mobile device via USB or Bluetooth. 

If you need to read physical documents, assistive technology for the blind apps can help you do this. The KNFB Reader app can be installed on your iPhone, Android or a Windows 10 computer. Users also have the option to purchase multiple licenses. The reader app is simple to use. With their device, the user takes a picture of a letter, book, or package. Using Optical Character Recognition (OCR), the app will translate the print text into spoken text or braille.

The Seeing AI app from Microsoft is free to download. It allows users, through different modes, to choose what they want to scan and read. Short text, a product, a document, a person and currency are just a few items you can explore.

The Envision app is available for both iPhone and Android. You will receive a 14 day free trial before you are invited to purchase a plan. Envision allows the blind user, through the usage of glasses, to familiarize themselves with their environment. If you want to learn more, listen to this podcast from Blind Abilities.

If you’d prefer to receive assistance from a person, in real-time, you have apps to choose from as well. The Be My Eyes app  is an app where volunteers from around the world interact with the blind and low vision community and help them accomplish small tasks, such as locating an object. Aira also connects users to sighted assistance. Short tasks can be completed for free, but there are purchase plans available.

Where you work isn't important, how you meet the demands of your position is. Although there are digital platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google's products, to aid you in completing specific tasks, you can’t do your job unless you have the appropriate hardware and software. Outlook Enrichment’s adaptive technology trainers can show you how to use assistive technology for the blind if you would like to brush up on your skills.

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