As those of you who follow this blog will know I am blind and, as a consequence can not see my computer’s screen. For many years now I’ve used a screen reader called Jaws which converts text into speech and braille allowing me to access the internet, email and many other programmes on my PC. Jaws is an excellent product however as with many first-rate products it comes at a hefty price (the cost of Jaws professional is £795). Having purchased Jaws the user can choose to buy a SMA at a cost of £190 which entitles the user to the next two versions of the product so someone purchasing Jaws version 12 with a SMA would be entitled to versions 13 and 14, under the SMA and he/she would pay a total of £190 for the two upgrades.
Most (perhaps all) blind people in employment would be entitled to have specialist equipment/software provided under the government’s Access to Work Scheme and would, as a result not have to purchase Jaws from their own pocket, however blind people buying Jaws for non-work related purposes have to pay the full cost of the software which can be difficult (if not impossible) for those who are not in employment and who do not possess the means to afford Jaws.
It is possible to download a demonstration version of Jaws and run it in 40 minute mode, however it is extremely frustrating to have to be constantly restarting one’s machine, every 40 minutes in order to keep Jaws active.
There are free screen reading programmes which are potential alternatives to Jaws and I tried one of these (System Access to Go) recently. System Access to Go can be accessed free of charge by anyone with an internet connection by visiting the following link http://www.satogo.com/en/. Alternatively the user can go to the start menu, type run and enter the address http://www.satogo.com/en/ which will load SATOGO. On entering the site SATAGO starts speaking straight away and the user is quickly able to begin browsing the internet and using other programmes. The free version of SATOGO will work so long as the user remains connected to the internet, however the moment the connection drops, SATOGO will cease speaking.
A paid for version of SATOGO is available which enables the user to work off-line and does, in addition possess a number of features not included in the free version.
Using SATOGO I was able to access my Gmail account, send and receive emails and perform searches on the internet.
SATOGO is a godsend for people who can not afford screen reading software such as Jaws and I’d certainly recommend people to visit http://www.satogo.com/en/ and give the product a try. However I, personally am used to the stability of Jaws and will continue to use it for most of my computing needs.
Anyone wishing to learn more about System Access to Go can visit the company’s website at http://www.serotek.com/system-access-to-go.