12 Open-source and Free Screen Reader and NonVisual Desktop Access Solutions

12 Open-source and Free Screen Reader and NonVisual Desktop Access Solutions
Photo by NEOM / Unsplash

Screen Reader Apps

Screen reader apps are software applications designed to assist blind and visually impaired individuals in accessing and interacting with computers and mobile devices. These apps use text-to-speech or braille output to convert on-screen content into audible or tactile information. They provide access to graphical user interfaces, web pages, documents, and other digital content.

NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA)

NVDA is a popular open-source screen reader app for Windows. It provides customizable speech and braille output, allowing blind and visually impaired users to independently navigate and interact with the Windows operating system, applications, and web content. NVDA is widely recognized for its user-friendly interface, regular updates, and strong community support.

Benefits of Screen Reader Apps

  • Accessibility: Screen reader apps make digital content accessible to blind and visually impaired individuals, enabling them to perform various tasks independently.
  • Inclusion: These apps promote equal access to information, education, employment, and entertainment, ensuring that visually impaired users can participate fully in the digital world.
  • Productivity: Screen readers enhance productivity by enabling users to read and write emails, documents, browse the web, and perform other tasks without assistance.
  • Empowerment: By providing access to technology, screen reader apps empower visually impaired individuals to pursue education, employment, and personal interests.

Usability and Importance

Screen reader apps play a crucial role in ensuring digital inclusion and accessibility for blind and visually impaired individuals. They allow users to navigate complex interfaces, access online resources, and interact with applications. These apps enhance independence, productivity, and social participation, enabling users to communicate, learn, work, and engage with the digital world effectively.

It is essential for developers, content creators, and organizations to prioritize the usability and compatibility of their products with screen reader apps. By considering accessibility guidelines and incorporating screen reader-friendly features, they can ensure that their digital content and applications are usable and inclusive for all users.


In this post, you will find a good range of open-source NV Access apps and Screen reader solutions for macOS, Windows, and Linux.

1- NV Access

NV Access is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing and supporting NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access), a free and open-source screen reader for Windows. NVDA enables blind and visually impaired individuals to access and interact with computers, providing them with independence and equal access to digital information and technology.

With NVDA, users can navigate through documents, websites, and applications using keyboard commands or braille devices. It supports popular applications such as web browsers, email clients, word processors, and more, allowing users to read and write emails, browse the web, create documents, and perform various tasks on their computers. NVDA also provides speech output and braille display support, allowing users to receive information through synthesized speech or by reading braille output devices.

GitHub - nvaccess/nvda: NVDA, the free and open source Screen Reader for Microsoft Windows
NVDA, the free and open source Screen Reader for Microsoft Windows - GitHub - nvaccess/nvda: NVDA, the free and open source Screen Reader for Microsoft Windows
NV Access
Empowering lives through non-visual access to technology

2- Dual Voice for NVDA

Dual Voice for NVDA is an open source speech driver for NVDA screen reader that allows the use of separate voices for reading non-Latin and Latin languages. This add-on requires one non-Latin and one Latin voice with a common interface, compatible with Speech API version 5 or Speech Platform.

It Supports several non-Latin languages include Persian, Arabic, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Ukrainian, while supported Latin languages include English, Czech, Croatian, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Slovenian, Spanish, and Turkish.

Winboard 4.5 Accessible Chess
Download Winboard 4.5 Accessible Chess for free. Chess for the Blind for the JAWS or NVDA Screen Readers. Winboard 4.5 32-bit is a free Windows accessible Chess program that works automatically with the JAWS or the free NVDA screen reader. It is for the blind, low sighted or those who can not use a mouse.

3- Speakable

Speakable is a JavaScript library that uses the Web Speech API for on-page screenreading and text-to-speech functionality. To use it, add the speakable library and CSS to your HTML document, and assign the spkbl class to suitable HTML elements.

GitHub - tollwerk/speakable: Simple and privacy friendly on-page screenreader / text-to-speech player using the native JavaScript Web Speech API
Simple and privacy friendly on-page screenreader / text-to-speech player using the native JavaScript Web Speech API - GitHub - tollwerk/speakable: Simple and privacy friendly on-page screenreader /…

4- Talkback

TalkBack is a screen reader on Android devices that provides eyes-free control. The setup process depends on the device manufacturer, Android version, and TalkBack version. Multi-finger gestures are available on certain devices.

Help pages are available to learn about enabling TalkBack on your Android device.

GitHub - talkback-foss-team/talkback-foss: Unofficial FOSS-friendly fork of Google’s TalkBack
Unofficial FOSS-friendly fork of Google’s TalkBack - GitHub - talkback-foss-team/talkback-foss: Unofficial FOSS-friendly fork of Google’s TalkBack
GitHub - google/talkback
Contribute to google/talkback development by creating an account on GitHub.

5- Yates TTS

Yates TTS system is an open-source free project that borrows code from the Ultraeloquence NVDA Addon. The document acknowledges the developers of Ultraeloquence and mentions that additional functionality can be added to Yates by downloading and installing the addon.

It also mentions that running Ultraeloquence alongside Yates may cause some issues, and that Yates is not well-documented. The document briefly mentions Non-Visual Desktop Access (NVDA) as an open-source screen reader and states that the ETI Eloquence 6.1 ECI is property of IBM Corporation and considered abandonware.

Features

  • Accurately reads file extensions in context
  • Accurately reads top-level domains in context
  • Correctly reads websites and web terms
  • Properly reads symbols, emoticons, and emojis
  • Reads titles with correct intonations for names
  • Common acronym fixes
  • Reads musical notation
  • Pronunciation fixes for mispronounced common names
  • Reads common computing and telephony terms
  • Correctly reads duodecimal number notation and units
  • Accurately reads gender-neutral English pronouns in context
  • Reads old English grammar in context
  • Reads definite and indefinite articles from other languages for context in names
  • Correctly reads chemical, mathematical, physical, biological, and medical terms
  • Correctly reads political prefixes in context
  • Indicates parenthetical text through changes in inflection and reading style
  • Enhances intonation for a smoother sound
  • Allows real-time input of phonemic and speech data to control text reading
  • Supports control tags sent directly to the synthesizer from the keyboard
  • Allows customization of voice characteristics from the settings menu
GitHub - oddmint/YATES: Yet Another TTS Expansion System (intended to majorly increase functionality of the ETI Eloquence 6.1 ECI under Non-Visual Desktop Access).
Yet Another TTS Expansion System (intended to majorly increase functionality of the ETI Eloquence 6.1 ECI under Non-Visual Desktop Access). - GitHub - oddmint/YATES: Yet Another TTS Expansion Syste…

6- WebbIE 4

WebbIE 4 is a .Net WinForms web browser based on the WebView control, designed for blind people and screenreader users.

It renders web pages as pure text, supports forms, video, and audio with specialized user interfaces, offers shortcut keys for keyboard-only users, and allows font size and appearance customization. Developed since 2000.

GitHub - AlasdairKing/WebbIEWebBrowser: Accessible text-only web browser based on WinForms and Internet Explorer view.
Accessible text-only web browser based on WinForms and Internet Explorer view. - GitHub - AlasdairKing/WebbIEWebBrowser: Accessible text-only web browser based on WinForms and Internet Explorer view.

7- Orca

Orca is a free and open source screen reader that provides access to the graphical desktop through customizable speech and braille. It works with applications and toolkits that support the AT-SPI interface, including GNOME GTK+, Java Swing, OpenOffice/LibreOffice, Gecko, and WebKitGtk.

GitHub - GNOME/orca: Read-only mirror of https://gitlab.gnome.org/GNOME/orca
Read-only mirror of https://gitlab.gnome.org/GNOME/orca - GitHub - GNOME/orca: Read-only mirror of https://gitlab.gnome.org/GNOME/orca

8- TDSR

TDSR is a console-based screen reader that has been tested on macOS, Linux, and FreeBSD. It can read output, navigate by line, word, and character, and use cursor keys.

GitHub - tspivey/tdsr: A console screen reader for macOS and Linux
A console screen reader for macOS and Linux. Contribute to tspivey/tdsr development by creating an account on GitHub.

9- Fenrir

Fenrir is a console screenreader that is modern, modular, flexible, and fast. It is designed to run on any operating system and is licensed under the LGPL v3. It has specific OS requirements for Linux, macOS, BSD, and Windows.

GitHub - chrys87/fenrir: An TTY screenreader for Linux.
An TTY screenreader for Linux. Contribute to chrys87/fenrir development by creating an account on GitHub.

10- Odilia

Odilia is a screen reader for the Linux desktop written in Rust. It is currently in beta and not production ready, but it is somewhat usable and stable, with ongoing daily changes and improvements.

GitHub - odilia-app/odilia: A fast screenreader for the *nix desktop.
A fast screenreader for the *nix desktop. Contribute to odilia-app/odilia development by creating an account on GitHub.

11- Yasr

Yasr is a console screen reader for GNU/Linux and Unix-like operating systems. It supports multiple synthesizers and can communicate with Emacspeak servers. It is written in C, works by intercepting input and output, and can be ported to other Unix-like operating systems.

YASR home page

12- Fangs

FANGS is a Mozilla Firefox extension that emulates a screen reader by creating a textual representation of a web page. It can be downloaded from the SourceForge project page.

Fangs – the screen reader emulator – Standards Schmandards

Read more