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Re: Speech enabling software


From: Paul Bohman
Date: Dec 14, 2005 5:00PM

Patrick H. Lauke wrote:

> As it stands, BrowseAloud should really be called "Browse Allowed". ...
> Stay away from BrowseAloud. Don't support their skewed business model.

I agree in terms of the complaints against their business model. It's a
strange one. It's not sustainable. Worst of all, it doesn't make the web
accessible. It only makes certain sites more accessible.

On the other hand, if we ignore the business model and look at the
product only in terms of its technical merit, I believe it does hold
some promise.

The fact that they've even attempted to create a product to help those
with dyslexia is much more than most other companies or organizations
have done. In this sense, we ought to encourage the further development
of products like this--again, in terms of their technical merit.

The idea of reading content out loud as you hover over it with your
mouse, and highlighting text (in the Internet Explorer implementation)
as it's read to you seems like a useful approach to at least some
aspects of dyslexia.

There are a few bugs with the Firefox implementation, but the Internet
Explorer implementation works quite well. In Firefox it only works if
you have one tab open. If you have two or more tabs open, it still reads
the content of the leftmost tab, so you may be hovering over the page on
the second tab, but it's as if the second page is transparent, because
Browsaloud reads the content of the page underneath the top page even
though you can't see page underneath.

Unfortunately, I wonder if their business model is going to get in the
way of technical development. There are so few web sites that are
"Browsealoud enabled" that it's hard for users to give feedback on how
useful the tool is on a wide range of web sites or types of web content.

Paul Bohman
Director of Training Products and Services
WebAIM (Web Accessibility in Mind)
Utah State University

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