Screen readers


What are they?

Screen readers are software that reads out text (like text readers do), while also providing information that is otherwise only available visually. For example, it may inform about special kinds of text (such as headings and links, which sighted users can identify due to the way they look), and read out text alternatives for non-text content (such as images). This is useful for all people who benefit from text readers, and essential for some people, such as those with severe or complete blindness.

Most operating systems ship with their own screen readers:

  • Windows and Windows Phone: Narrator.
  • Mac OS and iOS: VoiceOver.
  • Linux: Orca comes with many distros.
  • Android: TalkBack.
  • Chromebooks: ChromeVox (this can also be added to the Chrome browser on Windows and Mac, but in that case it is limited to web pages only).

Some other screen readers include:

  • JAWS (paid, for Windows): most popular screen reader, although the license is very expensive. It can be used for free for 40 minute sessions, so it’s possible to use it for testing without having to purchase a license.
  • NVDA (free, for Windows): not as popular as JAWS, but it still has more features and a wider user base than Narrator.

It is crucial to test with screen readers when assessing the accessibility of a digital product or service; learn more about that on our screen reader testing page.


VoiceOver on macOS:

VoiceOver on iOS:

NVDA on Windows:

JAWS on Windows:

TalkBack on Android:

Orca on Linux: