We’re delighted to report that Internet NZ have given us funding to build a prototype that demonstrates how the use of voice recognition technology can provide people with mobile devices access to otherwise inaccessible information on the internet via voice.

Due to the inaccessibility of many websites, people who are blind or low vision have limited ability to do what others are able to do online as a matter of course: connect with others, share ideas, discuss issues, make plans and access current news, information and literature.

Little thought is given to the accessibility of content, for example: images, pdfs and PowerPoint presentation formats are not accessible for the visually impaired. In this digital age people who are blind or who have low vision are trying to equip themselves to interact with this now mainstream medium that people are using to operate their everyday lives, but are limited by the amount of content that is accessible and that does not require vision to interpret. The lack of attention to making content accessible is putting blind people and those with low vision further and further behind.

The good news is that voice platforms- such as Amazon Echo- are growing in popularity. Bringing the internet to life by using the new voice-based technology, people who are blind or low vision will have a much easier time accessing internet content.

By making digital technology more accessible, people who are blind or low vision will have more equal access to the virtual world. Pam Baillie, Senior Trusts and Grants Fundraiser, says “The impact is as significant as putting a ramp up stairs for someone in a wheel chair, this project puts a ramp into the technology world for blind people.”

Thanks to funding from InternetNZ we have been able to explore innovative ways to use new technology that will make a huge difference to people who are blind or who have low vision being able to access the internet.