Ideal Criteria for People with ID to Listen to Web Text

People with intellectual disabilities, as do many people, have trouble reading.  For the Clear Helper Web site, I am considering setting up a way for people to listen to its textual content.  Here are my ideal criteria for this feature.

For Web site visitors, I would like:

  • No need for a screen reader.  They are complicated, are very expensive and, at least to my knowledge, are generally not used by people with intellectual disabilities.  (Of course, I will make the Clear Helper Web site compatible with screen readers.)
  • No need to install related software (e.g. a plug-in or a Web browser extension).  This too, in my opinion, would be too complicated.
  • An easy way to play the audio version of the text.  For instance, a click to a standard “play” button that appears and acts the same way on every page.

For the Clear Helper Web site, I would like:

  • A rich media player that:
  • Sound files that:
    • can be played both by an embedded rich media player and later by the user on any computer.  MP3s come closest because of their ubiquity and the wealth of software, free and commercial, that play them;
    • either are generated on-the-fly for dynamic text or are automatically updated any time static text is edited; and
    • use natural-sounding, royalty-free voices;
  • Video files that:
    • are embeddable into a Web page without the need for Flash (HTML 5 has that promise, but it’s probably a long way off.)

Am I asking too much?  Well, my research so far has revealed the solutions that come closest to these ideals.  They will be the subject of my next post.

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