Sean Douglas - The Codpast

Access All Areas – The redesigned browsealoud

This week Sean Douglas has written a guest blog for us, to coincide with the launch of the new look browsealoud...Thanks Sean!


Being Dyslexic myself, I’ve always found reading a struggle. In the last few years I have found ‘text to speech’ software that has helped me significantly.  ‘Text to speech’ reads the text on my screen for me, meaning reading large documents takes me minutes instead of hours and the stress and frustration of proofreading written work has vanished with the click of a mouse. It struck me that building this kind of functionality into our site would make it truly inclusive for our audience.

To my surprise there were quite a few options on the market to give our website this capability. However the browsealoud solution provided by Texthelp seemed to fit the style and function we wanted for our site. It was able to read back text automatically or when selected, simplify and strip down pages to just the most important information, change the colour of the text and background for those with visual stress, translate and read pages in numerous languages and was able to create mp3 versions of text to be listen to at a later date or on the move. In addition the software worked with both desktop and mobile browsing.

For the last few months browsealoud has been helping our online audience to fully engage with our site. So we were surprised when they announced a re-design, “what more could be added to the software?’ we thought.

On demonstrating the new-look browsealoud we realised that under the surface not much has changed, but the updates have undoubtedly made the software more accessible. Much like our own website, the thought and attention has largely focused on making the user experience as seamless as possible.

The redesigned browsealoud has a new clean and intuitive metro-style interface. The toolbar has bigger and more functional buttons, which are an asset when using the toolbar on a smaller screen or in a touch-screen environment. There is also the addition of a help button which provides visitors with a clear explanation of the toolbars many functions.



Even though the toolbar is now bigger, it can now be positioned anywhere on the screen, furthermore the toolbar is hidden behind the launchpad making it less obtrusive.

Things get even more interesting when we look at the new mobile interface.

The new mobile toolbar feels much more like a native part of your phone’s operating system. It is now fixed to the bottom of your screen and acts a bit like the dock or taskbar on your desktop. You can now see more of your content especially when the dock is hidden. Hiding the toolbar leaves a small unobtrusive browsealoud tab visible at the bottom of the screen; reassuring you that if needed, help is only a click away.

With the help of browsealoud, the content on our site is now available to the widest possible audience. With 10% of the UK population dealing with dyslexia (NHS Choices), 1.7 million UK adults struggling with low levels of literacy (National Literacy Trust), not to mention those with English as a second or third language, you quickly start to build a picture of how an inclusive approach can expand your website’s reach.
 
Sean Douglas is the Director of ‘Extraordinaire Digital Media Ltd’ and Co-founder of ‘The Codpast’ – a website for students and adults with Dyslexia.

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