GW Micro, Microsoft partner to make PC software free for blind

January 15th, 2014

News Coverage:

Published: January 15, 2014 3:00 a.m.

GW Micro, Microsoft partner to make PC software free for blind

Paul Wyche | The Journal Gazette

A Fort Wayne adaptive technology company has inked a deal with Microsoft Corp. that makes the company’s applications free for the blind.

GW Micro Inc. on Tuesday announced the partnership that gives blind and visually impaired individuals computing power and access to Microsoft Office. Terms of the licensing agreement were undisclosed.

“People like myself are finally able to get access to jobs they didn’t have access to in the past,” said Jeremy Curry, director of training at GW Micro, 5821 S. Anthony Blvd. Curry is blind.

The company’s Window-Eyes screen-reader system enables visually impaired people to use the keyboard to navigate on a laptop computer or PC. Voice commands direct them while they listen to email, the Internet, Microsoft applications and other programs.

The free offer is available only to Microsoft Office users.

Although GW Micro and Microsoft would not reveal the value of the free services, David Nelson, GW Micro’s president and CEO, knows it’s hefty.

“This stuff is not cheap,” he said. “For me, this is just another barrier that has been removed, and that’s an economic barrier.”

Numbers from GW Micro’s website bear him out.

The company’s screen-reader software costs $895, and while minor updates are free, major changes to the system would carry a fee.

Not now, though.

“This is going to benefit tens of thousands of people,” Nelson said.

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