Dolphin Computer Access: A History of Empowering Independence for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Dolphin Computer Access has been a leading innovator in the field of assistive technology for individuals who are blind or have low vision since its inception in 1986. The company’s journey began with the release of “Hal,” a groundbreaking screen reader named after the intelligent computer from the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Hal represented one of the first attempts to provide a voice output system for computer users with visual impairments, allowing them to interact with text-based operating systems.

The evolution of technology saw Dolphin adapting to the changing landscape, and in 1997, a significant leap was made with the launch of Hal for Windows. This adaptation was pivotal as it opened up the graphical user interface of Windows to blind and visually impaired users, making a vast array of applications and internet browsing accessible through speech and Braille output. The innovation didn’t stop there; recognizing the need for portability and ease of access, Dolphin introduced USB key-based versions of their software in 2007. This allowed users to carry their personalized screen reader settings with them, using any computer with the same ease as their personal device.

The year 2010 marked a rebranding era for Dolphin, as Hal was integrated into the SuperNova suite and rebranded as Dolphin ScreenReader. This change was more than nominal; it reflected Dolphin’s commitment to providing a comprehensive solution that catered to a broader range of visual impairments, combining screen reading with magnification and speech output.

Continuing their tradition of innovation, Dolphin introduced scripting capabilities in 2011 with the release of SuperNova version 12. This feature empowered users to customize and automate tasks, making the software even more adaptable to individual needs and specific applications, enhancing the user experience and productivity.

Over the years, Dolphin ScreenReader has continued to evolve, incorporating advanced features like support for touch screens, improved web navigation, and compatibility with a wide range of applications and digital formats. Dolphin’s commitment to accessibility and user-centric design has made its screen readers an essential tool for education, employment, and personal use among the blind and visually impaired community.

Today, Dolphin Computer Access remains a key player in the field of assistive technology, continually updating and refining its products to meet the changing needs of its users. The history of Dolphin’s screen readers is not just a chronicle of technological advancement but a testament to the company’s enduring commitment to breaking down barriers and enabling independence for people with visual impairments.

Beyond Screen Readers: A Commitment to Comprehensive Accessibility

Dolphin’s commitment to accessibility extends beyond their flagship screen readers. Tools like EasyConverter for accessible document conversion and Publisher for audiobook creation underscore their comprehensive approach to empowering individuals with visual impairments.

The Impact of Dolphin’s Work

The impact of Dolphin’s work is profound, empowering individuals with visual impairments to achieve greater independence in education, employment, and their daily lives. By providing innovative and user-friendly assistive technologies, Dolphin is helping to break down barriers and create a more inclusive world for all.

Charli Jo @Lottie