NVDA screen reader
NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA) is a free screen reader which supports Microsoft Windows.
In my experience NVDA is fairly easy to use after a short leaning curve. Its key features in Windows applications like Word and Internet Explorer (IE) is audio feedback for typing, caps lock, navigating (menus, buttons, hyperlinks and objects) and page loading. Despite all these great features NVDA does have flaws. Its screen reader didn’t keep up with my typing speed (30 words minute) and in IE only one paragraph at a time could be read, which stopped at hyperlinks unless the ‘speech viewer’ feature was activated. The primary speech synthesizer, eSpeak sounds a bit robotic however, Microsoft’s more human-like speech synthesizer, ‘Anna’, is available to select. Quotation marks and pm (time) are not recognised.
NVDA overall is good screen reader worth trying out especially because it is absolutely free and paid alternatives can cost hundreds of pounds. It may lack inclusive low vision features such as a magnifier and reverse contrast but these features are available in Windows 7. If the features in NVDA are not sufficient to suit your needs it is advisable to visit an Action for Blind People Resource Centre for advice on alternatives.