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LONDON, United Kingdom – Nokia has announced a screen reader this week at Nokia World 2011, in addition to a number of accessibility apps. These new products matter because they will make it easier for people with disabilities to use Nokia devices.

The software supplier for the Nokia Screen Reader is Code Factory, based in Spain. The CEO Eduard Sánchez describes the situation:

For a blind person, the only way to use a mobile phone without accessibility software is to know it by heart. That is, you need to know that if you press the Menu key and scroll down four times, you will be at the Message folder. And, when you get there, it is necessary to press the right softkey to open Options. It’s difficult to learn the different functions and memorize them. This makes the phone largely inaccessible. The Nokia Screen Reader provides a great alternative.

The Nokia Screen Reader is an application that converts screen content into speech. It’s helpful not only for users with sight limitations, but anyone who is not able to dedicate their attention to the screen. For example, it allows you to listen to text messages when you exercise.

Besides calling and texting, the screen reader is helpful for browsing the internet, accessing call lists and contacts, and managing the calendar. It works on touch screen devices and those with a physical key pad. The reader features a simple command structure which is easy to remember, as well as a configurable control panel. It’s available at launch in eight different languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Finnish, Swedish and Italian. 

The Nokia Screen Reader can be downloaded from the Nokia Store free of charge. It will be available before the end of the year for the C5 5 MP, Nokia 700 and Nokia 701 with Symbian Belle. We’re also exploring opportunities to bring screen reader technology to feature phones to reach as many customers as possible.

The launch of the Nokia Screen Reader coincides with another important development: the new Accessibility Channel in the Nokia Store. This channel aggregates apps that can assist people with vision, hearing and speech, as well as cognition and dexterity problems.

So what kind of apps are available? Well, there is Vlingo, a voice recognition app that carries out commands on the device. Or T9 Nav, which finds information on your device when you type what you’re looking for. Or, if you left your glasses at home, try Font Magnifier, which allows you to zoom the text by 140%. There are now some 50 apps available for download from the Nokia Store for selected Nokia devices.

If you need assistance downloading the Nokia Screen Reader, please call Nokia Customer Care in your country, or send us a message on Twitter @NokiaHelps.

We’re continuously working to improve our accessibility offering. Please tell us what sort of accessibility apps and device features you would like to see in the future from us!

You can also listen to the recording of this story in the embedded audio file.