I am pleased to announce that I have just signed on with BrowseAloud to become an official reseller in Australia. As some of you may be aware, I have a special interest in cognitive disability accessibility, and BrowseAloud is a fantastic assistive technology aimed at such users. It can be implemented on any web site – and can be useful to people with disabilities even if your site doesn’t fully meet WCAG1 or WCAG2. Please contact me if you would like more information or you would like a free trial. You can also download BrowseAloud and use it on my site.
BrowseAloud is an assistive technology that is free for the end user (another reason why I like it!). Websites pay a fee to enable BrowseAloud for users of their site. BrowseAloud is aimed at people with cognitive disabilities, mild to moderate vision impairments, people with low literacy and people with English as a Second Language.
Cognitive disabilities and vision impairments in Australia
- 4 million people with a registered disability
- 2 million people with dyslexia or specific learning difficulties
- 300,000 people who have a mild visual impairment
Low literacy and ESL in Australia
- 6.2 million adults have low literacy levels
- 3 million people with English as a foreign language
BrowseAloud has some very nifty features.
Text on the site can be read aloud simply by hovering over it. This screen reader is great for people with visual impairments that can see the text, but cannot read it. This is also great for people with physical disabilities, as they do not need to “click” using their specific assistive technology (joystick, switch etc) to read the text aloud. Words are highlighted as they are spoken which provides audio/visual reinforcement that improves word recognition and comprehension for people with English as a Second Language and people with low literacy levels.
Users can select specific text that they want read aloud.
BrowseAloud can translate English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. Translations are read aloud in the corresponding languages. This is a great feature for people with English as a Second Language, or when learning a second language in improving word recognition, pronunciation and comprehension.
The user can look up accurate definitions from an updated database of words and definitions. Both website owners and users can add words and definitions to this dictionary for their own website. Check BrowseAloud and how it speaks my name, “Gian”. That’s the correct pronunciation: I added it to BrowseAloud myself!
Users can alter the appearance of the screen by adding a combination of different colour filters to filter the entire screen (excluding the current sentence or word). This is great for people with attention deficit disorders and can be used in conjunction with the screen reader.
Website owners can make MP3 files to host and stream directly from their website. Website visitors can convert any online text to MP3 and listen on the move.
Users can magnify any text on the site. Magnified text can appear as a ticker across the top of the page, or appear word by word at the top of the page.