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RE: WeMedia's talking browser

From: Chuck Hitchcock <chitchcock@cast.org>
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2001 22:23:49 -0400
To: "Scott Luebking" <phoenixl@sonic.net>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <NDBBLDFEGLNOMJEDCGPPAEMBGIAA.chitchcock@cast.org>
I doubt that the WeMedia talking browser would be very useful for
individuals with reading disabilities.  There is way too much chatter and it
lacks the supports that are critical to individuals with reading
disabilities.  Of significance, it is important for sighted users of talking
browsers to read along with the spoken text.  This is made possible by means
of synchronized highlighting while the text is spoken.  The WeMedia talking
browser provides no support in this critical area.  Being able to set the
various reading and highlight combinations depending on individual need is
also important.  Also, if speech is interrupted, it seems that it cannot
begin speaking where you left off.  It always begins at the top of the
document and reads everything.  Lack of reading controls is a fatal flaw for
a tool like this.  You can even Tab through all of the links on a Web page,
a function of the underlying MS Internet Explorer component, but this is
completely disconnected from the behavior of the speech engine.

Switching from Text View to the Normal View does provide those with reading
disabilities with the graphics and other information that can enhance
comprehension.  This is useful.

I suspect that WeMedia must have developed the talking browser for
individuals who are blind although I am not aware of many individuals who
would prefer it to a screen reader for any purpose.  Perhaps libraries that
are not able to offer screen readers could offer bare-bones TTS support with
a tool like this - after someone lauches the application.

Given the list of Channels that are provided, I suspect this may be intended
as a shopping tool.

Chuck

...............
Chuck Hitchcock,
Chief Education Technology Officer, and Director,
National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum,
CAST, Inc., 39 Cross Street, Peabody, MA 01960

chitchcock@cast.org		TTY   +1 978-531-3110
Voice +1 978-531-8555 x233	Fax   +1 978-531-0192
http://www.cast.org/		http://www.cast.org/ncac/
http://www.cast.org/bobby/	http://www.ulc.cast.org/


-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org]On
Behalf Of Mike Scott
Sent: Monday, June 11, 2001 11:12 Chuck
To: Scott Luebking; w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Subject: RE: WeMedia's talking browser


WeMedia's Talking Browser (v 1.2) seems to be a good start (and the price is
certainly right). The basic "read the whole page" function can be useful,
although it doesn't allow the user to navigate/control reading like a full
screen reader or Home Page Reader (which are addmittely much more
expensive...) Sighted users can also use it to read specific text that they
have selected/highlighted with the mouse. It's "text only" view, which
offers a few text color/size options, is handy.

I am a little surprized that it seems to ignore images all together, even
those with ALT text. Also, while reading a page, it doesn't indicate when it
is reading a link vs regular text. There is a "page map" feature that is a
links list, but it also misses ALT text on image links (providing the full
HREF URL instead) and TITLE attributes set on text links.

The speech overall is probably too verbose. For example, in the page
map/links list it announces each link as "Link number x, link displayed is
<link text>". For a non-visual user it means listening through a lot of
extra, repetitive speech to find a desired link. Simply saying the link text
would probably be adequate.

For now, it looks like it's biggest potential would be for users who are
partially sighted or have reading disabilities.

I have only looked at it quickly, and I'd be happy to hear if anyone else
has better luck.

Mike

p.s. Be careful of the "My Zoom" feature (in the Tools menu) -- it takes my
Windows 2000 machine down every time...


-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org]On
Behalf Of Scott Luebking
Sent: Friday, June 08, 2001 3:15 PM
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Subject: WeMedia's talking browser

Hi,
Has anyone checked out WeMedia's talking browser?  Any comments?
    http://www.wemedia.com/talking_browser
Thanks,
Scott
Received on Monday, 11 June 2001 22:25:03 GMT

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