Blind Ambition: Plea for Funds to Keep Free Software Project Alive

Sylvia Pennington | Brisbane Times | March 16, 2012

Two Australian programmers may be forced to abandon their not-for-profit work that allows blind people around the world to join in social networks and the information age if funding is not forthcoming. Twenty-seven year old James Teh and his co-developer Michael Curran have spent the past four years building the open source screen reader Non Visual Desktop Access (NVDA) for the Windows operating system. The reader is free, available in 20 languages and has been downloaded more than 45,000 times since November.

The NVDA program can translate whatever the cursor touches into synthetic speech, enabling blind users to hear what the rest of the population is able to read on the screen. Although similar readers are available commercially, they can cost several hundred dollars to install and upgrade; a sum which is beyond the reach of many vision impaired users, Teh said. "We've had a lot of positive feedback that it's changed lives, especially in the developing world," Teh said. "Users have a sense of gratitude for the system – for access to things not previously accessible."...