Meet Ben at Keele University - Using SuperNova Magnifier & Screen Reader

For more information, please visit our website at: Introducing Ben, a student at the University of Keele. Ben uses Screen Reader to study his Computer Science Course, and now lives a full independent life at university.


Ben: My Name’s Ben, I’m 22, I have cataracts in my left eye. I used to have cataracts in my right eye as well, then operated on the right eye. Unfortunately, something went wrong with that operation, I’m now totally blind, but I still have a recollection of what things look like.

So I’ve actually used SuperNova all through my education, starting at my primary school, we used it in my secondary school as well. I remember the first time I actually heard about SuperNova was when it was installed on one of the computers in my classroom in year 3 I think it was.

SuperNova: SuperNova Access suite, SuperNova Control Panel, Visual page.

Ben: And I thought it was amazing that this computer could talk because previously, what I was doing was I was putting my face really close up to the monitor, but then, when SuperNova came along, and I realised I could do things that weren’t possible before, because SuperNova was talking to me.

I was able to read what was on the screen as opposed to just having to memorise the different pictures, and having to use the mouse. I think that’s why I’m so fascinated with computers now.

So I study Computer Science, only got a few months left actually, so it’s all a little bit manic at the moment. Every lecturer seems to think that their module is more important than anyone else’s, so you have to juggle it all a little bit.

 Largely, I do the same thing now as I did thirteen years ago. I still use character echo, although I’m a lot faster at touch typing, and one of the nice things about SuperNova is that I can have my speech incredibly quickly. So I read at about 700 words a minute, and that really helps for situations where we’re doing some group work, and we have to read a case study.

My sighted friends will just kind of skim through it in a few minutes, but in the same time, I will have read the case study word for word, and in most situations, I’ll have a more informed opinion of it, because I’ve actually delved into it, and because I’ve read it all as opposed to just skimming through it. 

At Keele, we use SuperNova in our labs and in our libraries, and I think the reason why they’ve chosen that is because it caters to everyone. You know, I can come in as a Screen reader user, yet at the same time, someone who is partially sighted, can come along, they can use the same software, but they can use the magnification part. 

So, from a logistical point of view, it’s so much easier just to have that one piece of software that you can install, and you know that it caters for everyone.

So I do quite a lot of e-bay selling, and SuperNova works really well with e-bay actually. I can list items, I can answer questions at people have, I can buy items, because again and again, I’m using the same software that everyone else is doing. I’m using windows; I’m using a standard web browser.

Because I had Disabled Student Allowance, DSA, I could choose what screen-reader I had, and I chose SuperNova because when I lost the sight I had in 2005, I could carry on using the computer. I would just turn off the parts of Magnification that I used, and you know in hindsight, I think it was really important to me that I still had that independence. 

Ben: Good afternoon. How are you?

Clerk: I’m fine, are you…?

Ben: In fact, I remember know you the very same morning I came down, and I checked my emails and whilst obviously, you know I was upset that I had lost my sight, essentially I could still do it, in the same way I was used to, because I was using SuperNova. I was just using different features of it. 

SuperNova: Menu, back. Inbox Microsoft Outlook.

Ben: I think SuperNova’s extremely important for my education. Because I’ve used it pretty much every day for the past thirteen years, I sometimes forget work life would be like without SuperNova. I mean, I read lecture sides with it, I do my coursework using it, I communicate with people using it, it’s just what it would be like without it. 

SuperNova: Dolphin SuperNova. For every visual impairment.