IBM relaunch browser for the blind
IBM are about to relaunch HomePage Reader, their text-to-speech browser for visually impaired users.
The Windows-based browser, which will be version 3.0, is integrated with the bundled ViaVoice Outloud software, and allows users to navigate links from a numeric keypad, although it does not accept speech input.
The list of new features is not yet available, but version 2.5 included the following functionality:
- Voice-prompted installation enables a person who is blind or visually impaired to set up HPR independently.
- Different gender voices used for reading text and links - making differentiation of content easier. The user can specify which voices read which page elements.
- Fast forward function enables users to skim web pages.
- Page summary and "Where am I?" commands tell number and location of elements on the current web page.
- Six different language versions available: U.S. English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish.
- Most language versions can read web pages in any of these languages: American or British English, French, German, Italian, or Spanish.
- Integrated electronic mail feature called Home Page Mailer.
- Netscape Communicator Version 4.5, which contains Netscape Navigator, included in HPR package.
The bad news is that HPR will cost you money. Version 2.5 cost $149, and 3.0 isn't expected to be any cheaper. However, there is a free trial download.
There is also an IBM mailing list for the browser, IBM-HPR. You can subscribe by sending an email to email@example.com, with a message body of subscribe IBM-HPR.