Talking browser allows blind to do e-business

IBM is introducing a talking Web browser that works with e-business Web sites – allowing many visually impaired and blind users to buy, sell and trade on the Web for the first time.

Home Page Reader 3.0 for Windows provides Javascript support for complete access to the Web and supports nine languages.

Javascript support allows the software to speak aloud all information on a Web page, including conventional text, tables, graphic descriptions, text in column formats, data input fields, forms and image maps. This enables blind and visually impaired users to complete on-line forms for buying, selling or trading products and services over the Web.

The new version supports English, Brazilian Portuguese, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, French, Italian, German, Spanish and Japanese.

Home Page Reader is a complete, self-contained talking browser. No screen reader is required. It combines Microsoft Internet Explorer and IBM’s ViaVoice Outloud text-to-speech technology to present Web-based information in one solution.

Users access the program through the standard keyboard, a numeric keypad, or by using a mouse, and hear the information through IBM’s Outloud speech synthesizer. The software is intended for users of Microsoft Windows 98, Millennium and Windows 2000. Users simply need to install the program following the installation and setup instructions, and the Web is instantly speech enabled.

The suggested retail price for Home Page Reader version 3.0 is $149. The US English version will be available beginning December 15, 2000. The translated versions will be available in their respective countries by March 31. Users of Home Page Reader versions 2.0 and 2.5 will be able to download a free upgrade to Version 3.0 from the IBM Accessibility Center at the end of this year.