Choosing a Computer After Vision Loss

Losing some, or all, of your sight can be a difficult adjustment. You’re faced with learning new adaptive technology. You have other tough questions to answer like which technology and computers offer the right accessibility options. What’s your budget? Will you need training? What’s your main purpose for purchasing a computer? What built-in accessible features do Mac and Windows include that are more efficient for your needs?

To help with these hard choices, we will provide resources to make this process easier.

What computer should I buy?

Mac and Windows computers give you built-in accessibility features. Mac’s magnifier can be grown to 20x normal size. The voiceover screen reader reads images on the screen and allows you to edit documents and locate files using voice commands. Use it with the keyboard, a refreshable braille display or with gestures on Apple’s Trackpad.

Listen to music or movies. Sync multiple devices to your computer. This can allow you to share your screen with others who use a braille display. If you intend on using your computer for entertainment purposes, then the Mac is your best choice.

If your computer needs lean more toward sharing and exchanging documents, a Windows PC is for you. You can operate these computers by touch screen, Zoom or shortcuts.

Computers with the Windows operating system are more versatile. You have several brands to choose from, including  Dell, Toshiba, and HP. Though Windows computers also contain a built-in magnifier that can be grown to 300 percent and a voice synthesizer program called Narrator, you can opt to purchase other screen reading programs and screen magnifiers. These include Jaws, Magic screen magnifier, System Access, or Non-Visual Desktop Access (NVDA).

Which screen reader is best?

The answer depends on your personal preference, budget and storage. Jaws is the oldest of the screen readers. NVDA is an open source technology and free to download, although donations are encouraged. System Access uses a simpler interface to navigate the screen.

Cost considerations

A Windows computer is significantly less expensive than a Mac. You’ll spend between $300 and $1000; however, you could pay more depending on whether you wish to use a different screen reader other than Narrator. Jaws is the most expensive, costing $90

per year or $900 for a one-time purchase. System Access costs $149 per year or approximately $25 per month while NVDA is free. Where a Mac is concerned, you’ll pay between $1,500 to over $2,500. The only difference is that your AT will already be installed.

Can’t I just use a mobile device?

You could, but there are advantages to having a computer.

All computers and operating systems have pros and cons. You must have everything customized as closely to your needs as possible.

Through Outlook Enrichment’s adaptive technology training program, you can become an effective user of a computer and screen reading or magnification software. Contact us to learn more about our adaptive technology training program!