*Please note: the picture above has descriptive alt text that we wrote, but is only usable for screen readers as it is a featured image.
We are starting off our first blog post with 5 free programs. Many programs designed for people with disabilities are often extremely expensive and not financially accessible.
So we are sharing some free programs that people may not be aware of, and that can be beneficial for anyone’s access needs.
Our team learned about this program when we went to an accessibility meeting at our local Microsoft store, and we were surprised by what the program could do.
The program is a real-time language translator that can be downloaded to a computer or phone. The program allows for on-screen translation either by speaking, typing, or texting. It allows for conversations to occur during a presentations so people can communicate and ask questions among each other.
At first we thought it was only able to translate from one language to another but then realized that the same language can be selected turning it into real-time captions. This would mean in an absolute pinch people could use this program as communication access real-time translation (CART).
Even though Microsoft Translator is fairly accurate it is not a substitute for CART services.
- Enables real time translation in the languages available, as the people can choose their language to engage in the presentation or meeting.
- Inclusive of those who are d/Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or have a degree of hearing loss.
- Inclusive of those who have learning disabilities.
- People are able to ask questions or get clarification without interrupting the presenter.
- Can be used in educational settings.
For more information visit this link: https://translator.microsoft.com/help/livefeature/
To download visit this link: https://translator.microsoft.com/
NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA)
NVDA which is a free screen-reader created by people who are blind for people who are blind. Our team uses NVDA to read webpages and to test our website for accessibility.
The program can substitute the expensive job access with speech (JAWS) program which is the standard for screen readers and cost nearly $2,000.
- Can be used to test accessibility of social media platforms, webpages, and documents.
- Great for auditory learners, or people with learning and/or vision disabilities.
- Does not use 3rd party software
- Can be used on a flash-drive making any computer accessible.
- Is compatible with Skype.
To download this program the page requests to leave a donation, but if this is not possible click the box no donation. Scroll down to the orange button that says download.
Visit this link to download: https://www.nvaccess.org/download/
For the user guide visit this link: https://www.nvaccess.org/files/nvda/documentation/userGuide.html?
XODO is a free PDF reader and annotator. It can be used to fill in forms, people can collaborate, and syncs with Dropbox and Google Drive if needed.
Our team uses this program as it is simple and easy to use. There are a variety of tools to highlight, write, and even merge PDF’s on their web app. This program seems to be a good substitute for the Adobe Acrobat Reader.
- Inclusive of those with migraines, learning and/or vision disabilities.
- Multiple view modes for contrast and flexible zoom features.
- Ability to collaborate.
- Organize pages: insert, delete, reorder, and rotate pages.
- Can create notes, and search the notes easily.
For more information visit this link: https://www.xodo.com/
To download visit this link: https://www.xodo.com/#download
Amazon Kindle is a free e-book reader that syncs across devices. What we like about this program is the customizable features which makes it more accessible, lots of free or minimal cost books available, and works with NVDA and JAWS.
- Inclusive for people with learning or vision disabilities.
- Offers the ability to make study flash cards for exams or tests.
- Can highlight, take notes, and add bookmarks in any book.
- Look up word definitions and listen to how they are pronounced.
- Can choose the background color, font size, and number of reading columns.
For more information visit this link: https://www.amazon.com/b?node=14100715011
To download visit this link: https://www.amazon.com/Amazon-Digital-Services-LLC-Download/dp/B00UB76290
Audacity is a free audio software that can be used to record and edit audio. We use this program for our podcast. This program is easy to use but there is a small catch in order to save as an mp3 file.
There is a plugin that needs to be downloaded. Once the plugin is downloaded it integrates seamlessly into Audacity and nothing else needs to be done.
- Has support for NVDA and Jaws.
- Can be used for memory aid.
- Can be used to record lectures, meetings, and podcasts.
- Can slow the voice speed which helps when taking notes.
- Many different export file formats.
For more information visit this link: https://www.audacityteam.org/about/features/
To download visit this link: https://www.audacityteam.org/download/
For the plugin download visit this link: Lame_v3.99.3_for_Windows.exe
All of these programs mentioned is of our own opinion and what we personally find helpful. We are not endorsing or paid to share this information.
GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP)
We don’t exactly like the acronym of this program, but it is an amazing free program that is the closest substitute for Adobe Photoshop. There are lots of free tutorials, 3rd party plugins, and user manuals in many languages.
- Works with NVDA
- Can create marketing materials with quality results.
- Lots of tools and support.
- Can make the theme dark under preferences.
- Lots of support and tutorials available.
For more information visit this link: https://docs.gimp.org/2.10/en/
To download visit this link: https://www.gimp.org/downloads/