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Ibm Relaunch Browser For The Blind

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Martin Burns

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User since: 26 Apr 1999

Articles written: 143

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, with a message body of subscribe IBM-HPR.

Martin Burns has been doing this stuff since Netscape 1.0 days. Starting with the communication ends that online media support, he moved back through design, HTML and server-side code. Then he got into running the whole show. These days he's working for these people as a Project Manager, and still thinks (nearly 6 years on) it's a hell of a lot better than working for a dot-com. In his Copious Free Time™, he helps out running a Cloth Nappies online store.

Amongst his favourite things is ZopeDrupal, which he uses to run his personal site. He's starting to (re)gain a sneaking regard for ECMAscript since the arrival of unobtrusive scripting.

He's been a member of since the very early days, a board member, a president, a writer and even contributed a modest amount of template code for the current site. Above all, he likes to do things because it knowingly chooses to do so, rather than randomly stumbling into them. He's also one of the boys and girls who beervolts in the UK, although the arrival of small children in his life have knocked the frequency for 6.

Most likely to ask: Why would a client pay you to do that?

Least likely to ask: Why isn't that navigation frame in Flash?

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