Online technology that can read a website to its visitors has been installed at ami.ca, the website of the Accessible Media specialty service.
The specialty service provider has also launched a first of its kind descriptive video program guide.
AMI operates an audio and TV service in addition to its website; the not-for-profit multimedia organization serves Canadians who require online reading support; the audience includes people with vision loss, people with dyslexia and other perception difficulties, as well as people learning English or French as a second language.
The new Described Video (DV) Guide provides a list of described television programming across Canada.
It was developed in conjunction with the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC’s) Described Video Working Group and the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB), and designed to build awareness of described video programming and enable blind or low vision customers to plan their television viewing.
The DV Guide was built and is maintained on a daily basis by AMI. Five days of TV listings are provided at all times and may be sorted by time, network or show. Step-by-step instructions and several accessibility options are available.
The text-to-speech audio software, called BrowseAloud, features a selection of high-quality, natural-sounding voices in both official languages.
BrowseAloud is a division under the registered organization name, Texthelp Systems Ltd. Its headquarters are based in Northern Ireland. The company purchases the voices from external organizations that specialise in the design of synthesized voices.
For the Canadian market, it has also provided streaming voices on sites such as the Standards Council Canada, Township of Woolwich, and Learning Disabilities Association Ontario, among others.
"AMI's mission is to make all media accessible to all Canadians and it is a significant advance for our organization that our website, which already offers a variety of leading-edge accessibility features, now makes it easier for our online visitors who rely on text-to-speech software to navigate their way around a website to discover all the terrific things we offer, including our new Described Video TV Guide," explained Robert Pearson, AMI's Director of Accessible Digital Media.
The audio program can read text from websites, intranets, extranets, html pages, accessible Flash, alt tags, and more. It also reads PDF and Word documents in their original format.
Visual tools let users highlight each word as it is spoken to show place on the page, and to mask other information on the screen to help increase focus on a particular area.
Magnification, translation and definition look-up are also supported.
For more Mediacaster Magazine coverage related to this topic, please see:
Safety Website 'Talks' to Visitors to Boost Accessibility
Live Described Simulcast for Hockey Day in Canada from CBC, AMI-tv
Advances in Media Accessibility Announced at AMI