Opening up the web to the blind

July 1, 2008

WebAnywhere, a new web tool that allows the blind to surf the web "on the go", without any additional software or installation requirements, has been launched.

WebAnywhere, a new web tool that allows the blind to surf the web “on the go”, without any additional software or installation requirements, has been launched.

The web-hosted tool, which reads aloud text on web pages and requires only that the computer has speakers, will open up the opportunities of the mobile internet to the blind, who previously were reliant on specially-installed screen-reading software, typically installed only on their own computers. In tests, users were able to use the internet to check email, look up a bus schedule and find a restaurant phone number on a variety of different computers and connections.

WebAnywhere was developed by Jeffrey Bigham, a doctoral student, under the supervision of Richard E. Ladner, BS, PhD at the University of Washington, US and with the support of the National Science Foundation. The access technology program, currently only available in English, is available free of charge.