Council website achieves power of speech

By Paul Hemsley

City of Unley website viewers will find a text to speech function that reads website content aloud and highlights each word as spoken.

Developed by Texthelp Systems, BrowseAloud was acquired from local distributor David Sutton Consulting.

BrowseAloud does not require software to be installed on the council's website, rather it specifically assists groups who have difficulty reading online content, in particular people affected with dyslexia, literacy skill issues and specific learning difficulties or where English is a second language.

City of Unley CEO Ray Pincombe said the service will benefit residents and local businesses that access information from the council’s website as well as city visitors.

“BrowseAloud will help us in ensuring our website is accessible to a greater number of internet users,” Mr Pincombe said.

City of Unley Manager of Community Projects Helen Hoare said there is an outsourced helpdesk associated with the program as the City does not have the expertise the helpdesk can offer.

Ms Hoare said the City pays an annual licencing fee of up to $5000 where purchasing is done on behalf of users of the technology, which also pays for the helpdesk services.

According to Ms Hoare, the City came to know about Texthelp Systems when the local government Manager of Strategy and Policy came across BrowseAloud and conducted research on it.

“I came into the role of developing the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 into plan and saw that it was a very useful tool,” Ms Hoare said.

Council engaged a consultant Enviroarch, which specialises in accessibility issues as well as environmental issues, to work with developing an action plan and identified BrowseAloud in its research as a viable option for improving online services.

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