There is now a variety of web browsers available for accessing the internet (and mobile phones). In the early days of internet 'surfing' the most well known were probably Internet Explorer and Netscape. The 'new kids on the block', relatively speaking, were Firefox, Safari and Opera, although other browsers are undoubtably in development. They all have their plus points and minus points - at the end of the day, it's all down to personal preference. Without wishing to favour any particular name, here is a brief overview of browsers and their 'add-ons'.
- eSSENTIAL Accessibility
|The provider of a software-based service that makes online environments fully accessible to individuals with physical disabilities. |
The software includes many assistive technology features which gives users with physical limitations the tools they require to access a website.
eSSENTIAL website (and free download)
Fully compatible with external tracking devices like Quick Glance, SmartNav, Tracker One, Head Master, joysticks or switches and already includes built-in tools like:
- Onscreen Keyboard and Layout Designer
- WebCam Mouse
- Auto Click
- Auto Scan
- Manual Scan
- XY Mouse
- Radar Mouse
- Direction Mouse
|Includes a Page-Reader system which allows any user with a vision limitation to:|
Fully compatible with the following Voice Recognition systems:
- Read the content of any web page out loud
- Read the title of the frames out loud
- Read the content of a selected frame out loud
- Read the links on an open web page out loud
Scansoft Dragon Naturally Speaking 8.0 and above Microsoft Speech recognition 6.1 or greater
Firefox runs on various versions of Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. Version 3 released July 2008. (Information source: Wikipedia). It provides many built in accessibility features for both users and web developers and the large collection of add-ons includes a growing number aimed at accessibility users.
LowBrowse is an add-on to Firefox , and enables people with moderate or severe low vision to view web pages as the original web author intended, as well as read the text on those pages in a format that is tailored to their own visual needs. Requires Firefox 3.0 or higher. More information about LowBrowse . . .
|Firefox||LowBrowse for the visually impaired|
|ClickSpeak (Firefox Add-On)|
An open source, freely available extension for the Firefox web browser. It is part of the CLC-4-TTS Suite of products, it features a mouse driven interface, and it reads web pages - hence its name.
Unlike Fire Vox which is designed for visually impaired users, CLiCk, Speak is designed for sighted users who want text-to-speech functionality.
It doesn't identify elements or announce events - two features that are very important for visually impaired users but very annoying for sighted users. It also has a simplified, mouse driven interface that is designed to be easy for users familiar with point-and-click graphical user interfaces. Like Fire Vox, CLiCk, Speak works on Windows, Macintosh, and Linux; and Fire Vox has multilingual support, making it great for users who are trying to learn a foreign language and need to hear foreign language web sites read out to them for practice.
Information source: ClickSpeak
- Internet Explorer
The current Version 7 was released in 2006 and included 'tabbed' browsing, first seen in Firefox. Version 8 was released in beta in March 2008. Find out more about version 6 >
First released 2003 and included with the Mac OS X v10.3. Version 2.0 released in 2005 and runs only on Mac OS X 10.4.x (Tiger) or later
Version 3.1 is now available for the Mac OS X and PC. (Information source: Wikipedia).
- Communicate: Webwide. A symbols-supported web browser. Designed for people who find web pages too complex to deal with in their standard format. View web pages in symbols or plain text. View them as text in a pre-set size and colour. Change the background colour – ideal for those with a visual impairment. Sort the page layout into a clear, single column. Hear the pages read with speech synthesis.
Screenshot of how 'Communicate' alters the web page format:
Screenshot source: Widget software
|WebbIE. A web browser for blind and visually-impaired people, especially those using screen readers. It comes with the Accessible programs, letting you access news and audio on the Internet in a simple and accessible way, allowing you to use podcasts, listen to the radio and read RSS and news with your screen reader or other access solution. Together they provide a way to access websites and other things online. |
It re-presents web pages as text with a caret, allowing users to use their existing screen reader or assistive technology to read it, but is not self-voicing
Download a copy of WebbIE . . .
Watch a video of WebIE in action . . .
More screenshots. Source: WebbIE.org
- Google Chrome. A new browser that combines a minimal design with sophisticated technology to make the web faster, safer, and easier (according to Google). A beta version for Microsoft Windows was released on 2nd September 2008. Read more about it . . .
Tuning your particular web browser