Screen reader


A screen reader is an assistive technology that converts digital text into speech or braille output. Screen readers are used primarily by people with blindness or visual impairments to navigate web pages and computer software.

Screen readers speak letters, words, numbers, punctuation, and elements aloud, sending the voice output to your computer speakers or connected headphones. Screen readers are the default computer access method for people who cannot see the computer screen.


IBM Researcher and Accessibility Pioneer, Jim Thatcher, created the first screen reader in 1986. Using a screen reader proficiently requires practice and dedication.

There are many keyboard commands required to navigate web pages quickly and efficiently. Each screen reader has a different operating structure and set of commands. All have many configuration options to suit the user’s preferences and needs. These include voice selection, reading speed, punctuation announcement, and other verbosity settings.

Users have different strategies and techniques for navigating the web and controlling their devices.

Types of available screen readers:

  • Job Access With Speech, commonly known as JAWS, is one of the most popular screen readers.
  • Freedom Scientific developed it first for DOS and then Windows.
  • Nonvisual Desktop Access (NVDA) is a free open-source screen reader for Windows. First released in 2006, NVDA usage is now rivaling that of JAWS.
  • VoiceOver is the screen reader built into Apple operating systems, including macOS, iOS/iPadOS, and Watch OS. Its development enabled people with visual disabilities to use the touch interface of the iPhone, beginning with the iPhone 3GS.
  • Google has TalkBack for Android devices and ChromeVox for ChromeOS.
  • Microsoft is constantly improving its built-in screen reader, Narrator.
  • Orca is a free, open-source screen reader for Linux from the GNOME project.


screen reader is a software application that enables people with severe visual impairments to use a computer.