IBM unveils talking browser for the blind

A new talking World Wide Web browser designed for people who are visually impaired and who understand English is available now from IBM. Home Page Reader software costs $US149 and is the second version of the talking browser from the company. A Japanese version came out last year and was developed with assistance from Chieko Asakawa, a researcher at IBM's Tokyo Research Laboratory who is blind, IBM said. Additional versions in other languages are expected later this year.

A new talking World Wide Web browser designed for people who are visually impaired and who understand English is available now from IBM.

Home Page Reader software costs $US149 and is the second version of the talking browser from the company. A Japanese version came out last year and was developed with assistance from Chieko Asakawa, a researcher at IBM's Tokyo Research Laboratory who is blind, IBM said. Additional versions in other languages are expected later this year.

The software relies on IBM's ViaVoice Outloud US English text-to-speech technology and Netscape Communication Corp.'s Navigator. The software recognizes HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) tags so that it can translate text, graphics, tables and text in column format and data fields.

A keypad lets blind and visually impaired users surf the Internet. The software has a fast-forward function and integrated e-mail.

The talking browser runs on the Windows operating system, versions 95, 98 and NT. It requires 32Mb of RAM for Windows 95 or 98 and 64Mb for Windows NT. It also needs 7Mb of hard disk space with an extra 10M bytes if Netscape Navigator is being installed. The minimum processor requirement is a 150MHz Pentium with MMX or an equivalent.

IBM, in Armonk, New York, can be reached at +1-914-765-1900 or at http://www.ibm.com/.

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