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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard dominique's Avatar
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    Browser for Visually Impared

    Does anyone know where I could get a free browser for the visually impared (ie. one that reads the page aloud) that I could test my site with?

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard big_al's Avatar
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    Hi,

    I'm not sure of any good browsers that do this because the visualy impared usualy use a screen reader (how else could they start the internet).

    I have worked with a program called JAWS, it usualy like IE the best and works quite fine on the internet. It is although a very expensive piece of software and you do need a high quality sound card to run most of them, atleast one with a voice synthesiser on it (hardware).

    I know the other big screen reader out there is called Window Eyes, but I have never used it.

    Just a few pointers.
    1. A screen reader does just that, so make sure you NEVER have horizontal scroll bars
    2. Always use alt tages where you can.
    3. NEVER use frames
    4. Try producing just a text version, so graphics no nothing, just text, this way every screen reader can read it and the person won't hear "Welcome Image, to my site! Please select a destination, home button, SHop button etc ec etc" Just use plain text and hyperlinks and you'll be fine


    Hope this helps a little.
    .NET Code Monkey

  3. #3
    SitePoint Guru sowen's Avatar
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    dominique,

    PM Nicky, (she will pick up this thread anyway but hey..) She knows more about visually impared browsing than anyone on the SP Forums.

  4. #4
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    Thanks Sowen!

    Big_Al is right about Jaws, but it is expensive. Basically, you will find that each blind person is different and will have learnt to deal with their disabilities in different ways.

    A range of adaptive solutions is available for Internet access. This includes alternative hardware to the keyboard and mouse such as mini keyboards, trackers balls and joysticks. In addition to the hardware alternatives there is a range of software that will aid the user in accessing the Internet. However, as websites increase in their complexity, providing access to them for non-standard users becomes much more difficult. Concepts such as graphical icons, multiple windows and mouse navigation are harder to convey. Software is now available specifically for users of speech, some of this software has been purposely designed for Internet use and these are listed below:

    PW WebSpeak 32 (unforuntely no longer being developed but if you want a copy and can't find one let me know and I shall send it to you!)
    http://www.prodworks.com/pwwebspeak/index.htm

    IBM Home Page Reader
    http://www-3.ibm.com/able/hprdoc.html

    SpeechWorks Voice Browser
    http://www.speechworks.com/productss...ucts/index.cfm

    Free Speech Browser
    http://www.speech.philips.com/fsbrowser/

    Sensus Internet Browser
    http://www.sensus.dk/sib10uk.htm

    Some of these are not free but may be available as evaluation software.

    If you need any more help let me know, I do research into Internet Accessibility for a living!
    Last edited by Nicky; Jun 7, 2001 at 15:20.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard dominique's Avatar
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    I tried Sensus Internet Browser but it keeps crashing on me.

    PW WebSpeak 32 is the only other one that looks promissing, too bad they discontinued it.

    I still don't see how that Philips browser helps the visually impared, all it does it let you browse by voice, but it doesn't actually read what's written. Well at least that what I understood from their page.

  6. #6
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    Yes, but you can use Phillips in combination with a screen reader adn therefore and speech input AND output. I know that even though PWwebspeak has been discontinued a lot of blind peopel I know are still planning on carrying on using it as long as they can. It is a shame my department hasn't got the funding for it if not we could go about developing a speech browser.

    Anyway, if you want a copy of PWwebspeak email amd and I shall send it to you, it might be too big for email but I can burn it on CD and post it!

  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard dominique's Avatar
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    Thanks for the offer Nicky but I don't want to bother you too much.

    I found a good list of browsers and other applications that facilitate the use of the Internet and computers for the visually impared at http://www.w3.org/WAI/References/Browsing. You probably already have it though.

    I also came accross these sites in my search that might interest you, I don't know if you already have them all:

    Web Accessibility Initiative
    www.w3c.org/wai

    Federal IT Accessibility Initiative
    www.section508.gov

    Micosoft Accessibility
    www.microsoft.com/enable

    And of course there is always the National Federation of the Blind
    www.nfb.org

  8. #8
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    Thanks for those linsk, I do have them but it is sweet of you!

    Also check out www.rnib.org.uk/digital

    As to PWwebspeak, if you want it I will send it no problem honest!

  9. #9
    SitePoint Wizard dominique's Avatar
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    Thanks for the offer again, but I'm trying some of the other applications on W3C's website so hopefully I will be able to do without it. If not I can always get back to you.

    So far I'm mainly focusing on making my site friendly to those with hearing problems by providing text transcripts for all the audio and video content on my site.

    That's the easy part since I don't have to change my site's layout. As for making it friendly to screen readers and speech browsers, a text-only version is the only way that really makes any sense. I don't plan on adjusting my current design, instead I'll just set up a text version once I get the whole php-mySQL combo working (hopefully sometime soon).

    Do you know if there is any way that I could auto-detect users of screen readers and speech browsers to redirect them to the text version? The browser part shouldn't be that hard, but is there any way I could detect the screen reader?

  10. #10
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    No sorry, I don't think that is possible, although I would be very happy if someone can contradict me!

  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard big_al's Avatar
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    Originally posted by dominique
    Do you know if there is any way that I could auto-detect users of screen readers and speech browsers to redirect them to the text version? The browser part shouldn't be that hard, but is there any way I could detect the screen reader?
    No, as far as I know there isn't, you could go to the extent of writting an ActiveX control that does that.

    The best alternative would be to have an entry page with the option to go to a text only version.
    .NET Code Monkey


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