Tuesday, 8 November 2011

BrowseAloud

The force is completing an impact assessment on whether to renew the BrowseAloud contract, do you have any thoughts on there is a requirement for this?
Please read the below for a fuller explanation and email website messaging with your thoughts and ideas before 24 November 2011.
Thank you.

What is BrowseAloud?

BrowseAloud is a solution that allows users to have website content read to them aloud, by moving the cursor over text.
BrowseAloud is free to download for users who have control over the voice, word pronunciations and speech highlighting.
The user downloads a free, small browser plug-in. Once the plug-in has been installed, content on this site can be spoken aloud. BrowseAloud will read every webpage on the site and can also read pdfs in Adobe Reader Version 6.0 onwards.
The Force purchases a license to enable the BrowseAloud function on it’s external website. The renewal license for the next two years has been vigorously renegotiated and the lowest price has been reached.

Some thoughts after much consultation.

BrowseAloud is perhaps a little surplus now that technologies have moved on. In the current financial climate it is a significant expense that we must review especially as we are able to provide alternative free options, which offer the same type of service. Most users with visual assistance needs tend to use a system wide solution but we cannot ignore users who may not have such systems or simply cannot afford them. We want to ensure any free alternatives offer the same functionality.
The web team concentrates its efforts on W3C standards and works towards compliance. And ensure that this is built into the conceptualisation, design, development and implementation of our sites.
There are a mix of free alternatives to BrowseAloud which perform various functions and also payment plan versions of web plug in software which do the same job as ‘BrowseAloud’ but they are all expensive (and with budgets being slashed to the extent they are) it becomes even more crucial that we get value for money and ensure the function is now relevant and still needed.
If we do not renew BrowseAloud we will be able to offer links to these other alternatives:
  • Jaws, a screen reader for Windows. A trial period demo is available.
  • Lynx, a free text only web browser for blind users with refreshable Braille displays.
  • Links, a free text only web browser for visual users with low bandwidth.
  • Opera, a visual browser with many accessibility-related features, including text zooming. A free downloadable version is available.
We have consulted:
  • The Force Equality & Diversity department
  • The Force disability group
  • The industry standard .net magazine
  • Employees of The South West School and College for the Blind
  • The students of St Loyes College.
Please email your views to website messaging by the 24 November.
Thank you

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