IBM Debuts Talking Web Browser

Aiming to provide Web access to the visually impaired, IBM recently unveiled Home Page Reader for Windows, a talking Web browser.

The new tool is made to read aloud information found on a Web site and makes it easy to navigate the Internet.

“We began this project with one clear objective–to minimize the information gap between the
sighted and the blind,” said Chieko Asakawa, a blind researcher at IBM’s Tokyo Research Laboratory and a key player in the software development. “Now, with this new software release, more people than
ever will benefit from the wealth of information available on the Internet. Using
IBM’s exclusive fast-forward skim reading feature, the blind can obtain
information from the Web as quickly as the sighted.”

Home Page Reader was developed originally in Japanese, but has been adapted
to read English. It uses IBM’s ViaVoice OutLoud U.S. English text-to-speech
technology, working in conjunction with Netscape Navigator, to speak the
information clearly.

It also recognizes HTML tags and is able to translate text,
tables, graphic descriptions, text in column format and data fields, giving blind
people the same access enjoyed by sighted users.

Currently available in Japan, Home Page Reader for Windows 95, 98 and NT is slated to become available in the United States in January 1999, and will have a retail price of $149.

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