There is an amazing range of assistive technologies available which can open up the world of work to blind and partially sighted people.
In particular these help blind and partially sighted people access computers and read printed documents. Some of the many ways in which employers can support staff by making simple adaptations or investing in assistive technology are summarised below.
Computer users with low vision
There are many ways in which partially sighted people can adapt computers to make them easier to use.
Simple adaptations can be made to a computer such as displaying large fonts and icons, changing the colour scheme and increasing contrast.
Large monitors can be helpful for someone who wants to increase the size of the text on the screen, as can magnifying filter screens.
Magnification software can increase the size of a small part of the screen to fill the viewable area.
Video magnifiers can be used to electronically magnify the screen.
Adapted keyboards are available, as are keyboard stickers which can make a standard keyboard easier to use.
Computer users with no vision
It is quite possible for someone with little or no vision to use a computer.
Screen reader software, such as JAWS, reads out text from the screen using synthetic speech. Screen readers also allow users to navigate through the system and control programmes from the keyboard.
Voice recognition software allows users to voice-activate programmes on the computer.
An electronic braille display is a tactile device placed under a conventional computer keyboard, which enables the user to read the contents of the computer screen, by touch in braille.
To read print, a scanner with optical character recognition (OCR) converts print into electronic text that is read aloud using synthetic speech.
Find our more about this in our computers and tablets section.
Supporting your employees to fulfil their role
RNIB can help you assess which assistive technologies would be appropriate for your employees as part of our work-based assessments. We can also provide bespoke one to one assistive technology training.
You can also browse the wide range of assistive technology available to buy through the RNIB Online Shop.
If your organisation employs, or is due to take on, someone who is blind or partially sighted, they may need to use access software. The following factsheet is designed to help your IT staff test the compatibility of access software with your organisation's IT applications: