In a much anticipated release, at this year’s Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) conference HumanWare and Code Factory debuted Oratio for the BlackBerry, the first-ever screen reader for the visually impaired using this smart phone. Oratio uses text-to-speech technology to convert the visual information displayed on the BlackBerry screen into audio output. Finally, visually impaired persons who don’t have an iPhone can have an accessible experience (the iPhone uses Apple’s proprietary VoiceOver screen reader.)
I wrote about this excellent, up-in-coming product in my book, though the name has been changed from Orator to Oratio to avoid any confusion with an existing product called Orator being manufactured by a telecommunications company in the USA. “Although we got accustomed to the name Orator for BlackBerry in the last few months, Oratio is less generic and provides a more personalized name and sound for the product,” says Michel Pepin, Product Manager at HumanWare.
The screen reader for the BlackBerry combines the efforts of HumanWare and Code Factory, the leading provider of screen reader technology and maker of Mobile Speak, as well Research In Motion (RIM), the maker of the BlackBerry products.
Oratio will first be released in North America in English, supporting the BlackBerry Curve 8520 smartphone from AT&T, available through online purchasing from www.oratio4bb.com for $449 US for a single license. Support for additional BlackBerry smartphone models and languages will be available in subsequent versions of Oratio.