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4 people with hidden impairments

Download Browsealoud
Service from those friendly "textHELP" people.
Interim (review) by Andy Hayes.

Download Browsealoud

As a person with severe dyslexia I have always looked for technology to provide myself and others with similar difficulties the access to participate with the world of written information. The Internet has provided so much information this makes it an unbelievable source for knowledge accessible to many members of society. As I have text to speech facilities with my voice recognition software. I have found the Internet so valuable finding information that I never had access to before this with my reading and writing difficulties.

However my text to speak facilities are fairly limited to just reading plain text on a web site I really needed something more. There are a variety of facilities available in a variety of qualities and prices. There are also text to speech programmes available free to download many may have limitations as to use of these facilities.

While I was looking around the Internet I came across a "download Browsealoud" button/logo and was keen to investigate this. So I clicked the "download Browsealoud" button to see what this was all about. The button takes you straight to the download programme page and there is no cost to download this programme. So I download the Browsealoud programme and this was fairly straight forward I didn't have difficulty following this procedure with my reading and writing difficulties.

This took about 14 minutes for my computer and modern which are probably a little outdated now! Then a setting window appeared giving me an opportunity to select various different voices along with other settings. This was very simple although it took some time adjusting the settings to acquire a voice that was comfortable for myself to listen to.

Picture of Browsealoud settings window.

After this I was able to visit enabled sites and use this facility to read information on these sites instantly. I didn't even need to turn my computer off! As I hover the cursor, that Browsealoud had change to the default bright yellow arrow with their little logo, the text was read to myself. As I hovered cursor over pictures that had alternative text Browsealoud read this text to myself too. This facility wasn't available on the text to speech facility with my voice recognition software or other products I had on this computer. Browsealoud didn't stop there! It continued to read text from the browser menu and buttons I was very impressed with this.

Pitcher of Browsealoud cursor, mouse pointer.

Is it really "free"? I ask myself.

So I made inquiries and found out that it is completely free for the end user ie people visiting enabled web sites. Just click on the "download Browsealoud" button and load this programme entirely free for use. This will only work on enabled sites.

I also learnt that the reason Browsealoud is free to the end user/visitor is because they make a charge to web site owners to enable their sites. This is why it only works on enabled sites. So the site owners are paying for the cost of this service which varies in price accordingly to weather sites are a business, charity or personal sites.

If you look on the settings menu you can find a list of enabled sites like hi2u for the "Hi2u for people with hidden impairments" web site. You can double click on any of these sites in this menu and it will take you straight to that site.

I have personally found this very easy and valuable to use there are a few annoying factors that perhaps go away after you gain more experience of using Browsealoud. One down side is that this service is relatively new and many sites I visit aren't enabled so this is one problem. However as more legislation around the world passes through government to ensure more services are accessible to all members of society. Browsealoud may well developed to be a powerful tool to enable web sites the ability to be accessible to those members of society with reading difficulties. Because more and more web site owners will probably see the advantages of being enabled. Not because legislation may be persuading them to but because people with reading difficulties will be insuring their needs are recognised by web site owners. The Internet is becoming very much more competitive so I'm sure the value of visitors with reading difficulties will be recognised too.

Browsealoud certainly gets my vote of approval. This is why the "hi2u 4 people with hidden impairments" is Browsealoud enabled. I'm also very much hoping that this site will encouraged other sites to the enabled too.

So try this facility out! Take some time with this and let "hi2u 4 people with hidden impairments" know how you got on with it see contact information by clicking here.

This is an interim review by Andy Hayes
composed using DragonDictate classic version 3 (Voice recognition software).
Attentions are to produce a full review in the future.
24th January 2003


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