So many of you know how difficult it is to afford, load and use a full version screen reader. Even if you overcome the financial burden, sometimes you encounter situations where it is hard to run and use the software. What if you are on another computer? What if the full version takes up too much memory to run? How about when running the full version causes system conflicts and your computer locks up or freezes? What if you are just wanting to test your website for accessibility using a Screen Reader, but don’t want to fork over thousands of dollars or reboot your computer every 40 minutes with a demo version?
I recently learned about a petition that is now circulating to submit to Freedom Scientific, the manufacturer of the Screen Reader JAWS for Windows. It would be fantastic if FS really looked into the option laid out in this petition to make a JAWSLite. There is definitely more tough competition out there in the Screen Reader Market, with Serotek’s System Access, and NVDA for Windows, both having versions available for a smaller price. System Access can be run from any computer, right from the web browser, without the need to load the software onto the machine. NVDA is open source and free, and while their support for popular applications may be limited now, there is a great potential for that piece of assistive technology. With that in mind, take some time and have a look at the JAWSLite Petition and even sign it. So far there aren’t a ton of signatures, but we can change that. It may be all for nothing, and yet big things start with small actions! If enough of us get behind this, perhaps we can help FS continue to stay competitive in a growing marketplace of screen reading options!