Free Screen Reader Software for Visually Impaired

Free screen reader software to allow the visually impaired and blind computer users to conquer the digital divide is available to users through the world.  This award-winning software is available free for download and enables visually impaired and blind people to use a computer.

What is this free screen reader software?  The screen reader software is named Thunder and it is being offered free by ScreenReader.netCIC, a not for profit company.  According to the website, “Thunder is a free gift to the blind and visually impaired from the people at Sensory Software Ltd.”  A quick search on the Internet shows that Sensory Software Ltd. is a software development company that provides software applications for the disabled computer user.

The screen reader software Thundar is free only for personal home use.  Commercial uses are permitted but there is is a fee for using the screen reader software in a commercial setting.

What exactly is Thunder?

Thunder is a free screen reader software application that will read the text from the screen to the visually impaired or blind computer user.  In addition to this screen reading capability, Thunder will speak letter by letter or word by word as the computer user types.  It has the ability to speak slower or faster, to repeat what it has just said.  What is unique about this free screen reader software is it enables full speech feedback in most text based word processing packages, including Microsoft Word, WordPad or NotePad.  In fact, the screen reader program Thunder is being promoted as working “extremely” well with Microsoft Word, Microsoft Outlook Express and Microsoft Internet Explorer.  These applications provide most visually impaired and blind people the functionality to write emails, letters and be functional on the Internet.

This screen reader program is compatible with Microsoft Windows 2000, XP and Vista.  It is not compatible with earlier operating systems such as Microsoft Windows 95, 98 or ME.  The Thunder screen reader program does require a multimedia enabled computer with a soundcard and virtually all soundcards are supported.

While this screen reader program is free, there are limitations in the software applications that it will work with.  The website indicates that the following software applications are functional with the Thunder screen reader:

MS Calculator
MS Excel
MS Internet Explorer (using WebbIE Internet text browser)
Listen-again radio
Nod32 Anti-virus
MS Notepad
MS Outlook Express
MS Sound recorder
MS Vista
MS Windows2000
MS Windows 
MS Word XP
MS WordPad

This does not mean that other software will not work with the screen reader.  As funding becomes available, Thunder is being expanded to be more compatible with more and more desktop applications.  This screen reader does however, open a whole new world for those computer users that are visually impaired or blind.

In recognition of this contribution to the visually impaired and low vision computer community, this project has received the International Centre of Excellence for Local E-democracy Ministerial Award in London, England.  This was recognition for providing a valuable software resource to those who may not normally be able to afford a screen reader application.

The Thunder screen reader program can be downloaded free of charge from the website.