Hear the Site
You can make your computer, mobile device or tablet talk to you in a number of ways. This can be a valuable facility if, you have difficulties with reading, can't see very well or not at all, and if you need to give your eyes a rest.
If you prefer not to use your PC, mobile device or tablets accessibility tools you could use a third-party screen-reader and text-to-speech software applications.
If you need help in using computers, the web and assistive technologies, we recommend you visit BBC My Web, My Way (opens in a new window). This site has videos and information to help you use the accessibility features of your computer and shows how to make it easier to use the web.
Free software is available, but can be less sophisticated and have fewer features than software you can buy. If you want to surf the web, send and receive emails, and write basic documents, one of these might be the right one to use for your needs
NVDA (Non-Visual Desktop Access) is a free screen reader. It is an open-source programme that comes in portable and installer versions - the portable version can be run from a pen drive without any installation.
NVDA uses the eSpeak synthesizer which includes UK regional accents. It works on Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8, where it supports touch screens. It also supports ARIA-enabled web pages.
NVDA has support for the basic features of Windows, Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, and a growing support for Microsoft Office.
Window-Eyes for users of Microsoft Office
GW Micro, the makers of the Window-Eyes screen reader, have released a free version for users of Microsoft Office 2010 and above.
The free version is the same as the paid-for version of Window-Eyes except that it does not include the same voices, has no print, braille or audio CD documentation, and comes with little free technical support.
Other free screen readers
Other, free screen readers include:
Thunder works well with Windows XP through to 7, and less well with Windows 8. It comes with the WebbIE suite of simplified alternatives to standard Windows applications, such as Calendar, BBC iPlayer, PDF reader and a text-based web browser. It assumes the use of a desktop keyboard - some of its commands rely on the number pad.
System Access to Go works on Windows XP and later (although support on Windows 8 is restricted to desktop apps), and includes support for some braille displays and even basic screen magnification. You have to connect to the website to download and start it. It is a free version of the System Access screen reader, intended for use only in temporary situations.
Whilst we've tried to ensure this site is accessible, you may encounter some limitations. Although we always aim to communicate in clear and simple language, this isn't always possible. Some content may by technical in nature and may require technical understanding. If you do find there are parts of the website that are inaccessible, please let us know by emailing BIS@mendip.gov.uk
If you have any difficulty using our website or spot any problems, please send us your feedback. We're happy to hear from you and your feedback will help us make our site better. If you need some advice on what to write, please read this guide (opens in a new window) and send your feedback to BIS@mendip.gov.uk