In the past I was of the opinion that proprietary solutions in computer systems, with regards to accessibility for partially sighted and blind users, where not the best choice. Meaning that users should learn how to work with the operating system and the programs that they needed, by using they´re magnification or screen reader program of choice. This would include your basic email application, word processing program, web browser, and so forth. By taking the time to learn the basics of the operating system you would thereby be preparing yourself for future work on your computer, of course this is as true today as it was in the past.
But I now feel that there is also value in a different approach.
The majority of people who are partially sighted are not in their twenties or thirties, usually they have to deal with low vision later in life and many have little or no experience with computers. When you start working with a screen reader, you quickly realize that there are a number of things you are almost expected to know already. Like for example what an icon is, menu´s, list items, and so on and so forth. Try to imagine what a daunting task it is to learn how an operating system works when you can´t see the screen! Some people like a simpler approach and don´t really need all the options that come with the large operating systems. Here´s where the proprietary solution comes in: Dolphin Guide.
To summarize, the program includes magnification and screen reading and has many services built in from the get go. For example an email application, an OCR scanning option and a simple web browser to name but a few. The current version does not support Braille, but hopefully that is something which will be available in future versions of the product. Dolphin Guide is not a new solution, it´s been around for some time and is currently at version 7. My goal is not to clarify every aspect of Dolphin Guide, if you want further information on Guide it´s best to check out the manufacturer’s homepage at the following link: http://yourdolphin.co.uk/productdetail.asp?id=30
My experience is that Dolphin Guide can be a very good option for partially sighted or blind people who just want a simple, easy to learn, program that provides them with access to a computer. Have you tried it?