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RE: Text to speech

From: rcn <rcn@fenix2.dol-esa.gov>
Date: Fri, 23 Oct 1998 07:05:37 -0400
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <000c01bdfe75$101b5f60$47c3c8c7@rcn.dol-esa.gov>
The Productivity Works web site has an article that may be of interest.
Here is the text and the URL is

Efforts aimed at blind Net users
By Paul Festa
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
October 21, 1998, 12:35 p.m. PT
As the nation observes National Disabilities Month, two firms and a
standards organization are honing in on the needs of visually impaired
IBM today announced the English version of Home Page Reader, its browser for
the visually impaired. The product, already available in Japanese, will be
sold and packaged with Netscape Communications' Navigator browser.

The product advances beyond traditional screen readers by providing
navigation tools for links and other HTML elements such as forms and tables.
The browser reads standard text in a male voice and links in a female voice.
It also provides searching capabilities for links, helping users negotiate
sites with dozens or hundreds of links per page.
IBM is not the first firm to provide a browser for the blind. Productivity
Works debuted its voice-based browser in 1996. pwWebSpeak is a stand-alone
browser, rather than an add-on.
Productivity Works is gearing up for the launch of another voice-based
browsing product, which will utilize the telephone.
The firm's pwTelephone is geared not only to the visually impaired, but also
to people without access to Internet-ready PCs. The software may also prove
useful to firms that want to provide information, such as schedules or price
lists, both by phone and over the Web and from a single source.
Another Web-telephone product is General Magic's Web-On-Call.
Interest in phone-based Web access systems is reflected in activity at the
World Wide Web Consortium, the standards body whose recommendations are
widely respected and recognized among Web developers internationally. The
W3C this month held a workshop to discuss phone-based Web access.
The workshop will likely result in a W3C working group for voice browsers,
according to Productivity Works cofounder and senior vice president Mark
Hakkinen, who attended the workshop.
"In the world today, far more people have access to a telephone than have
access to a computer with an Internet connection," the W3C noted in a call
for participation. "Voice browsers offer the promise of allowing people to
access the Web from any telephone, vastly increasing the number of people
who can use Web sites."
The W3C has an arm devoted specifically to issues regarding Web users with
disabilities, the Web Accessibility Initiative. The initiative has worked to
make both Web languages and Web developers more friendly to visually
impaired users, pushing for more descriptive alternative text for images and
tables, for instance, and for standards that make tables and columns
readable by voice browsers.
The English version of IBM's product will be available in January.
PwTelephone will be available next week.
Related news stories
• W3C aims to make browsers accessible June 18, 1998
• W3C issues accessibility draft February 3, 1998
• W3C releases style spec draft November 4, 1997
• Program seeks Net access for the blind July 11, 1996
• Visually impaired get talking browser February 12, 1996
Received on Friday, 23 October 1998 07:05:15 UTC

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