RealTime IT News

Accommodating Visually Impaired Shoppers

Online retailing behemoth Amazon.com is making it easier for the visually impaired to shop on the Internet by launching an alternative version of its Web site designed for customers who use screen access software.

The new site, called Amazon Access, is a streamlined version of Amazon's base site with less text and graphics, but still providing access to the company's full line of products and personalization features.

Amazon said that text and user functions are compatible with screen access software, which reads aloud the text and links.

The software allows users to enter text, jump from link to link and navigate a site through the use of special keystrokes.

"Making online shopping and a broad selection of products accessible to all people remains one of Amazon's main goals, and we hope this new site will greatly improve the shopping experience for our customers who use screen access software," said Robert Frederick, manager of Amazon Anywhere.

The new site is powered by the company's mobile commerce platform, Amazon Anywhere, which provides wireless access to Amazon's Web sites via WAP-enabled devices in Europe and the United States and via i-mode and EZweb phones in Japan. The mobile commerce sites are streamlined versions of the Internet site designed specifically for wireless phones, PDAs and other non-standard Internet browsers.