Creating the accessible website

Creating the accessible website

Like many cities, Marion, Ill., has its share of residents who don’t speak English or have poor reading skills, visual impairments or dexterity issues – any of which can make a government website hard to use.

To make the Marion website more accessible and useful to residents, the city installed software on that adds speech, reading and translation capabilities. TextHelp’s Browsealoud uses a human-sounding voice that reads website content aloud in multiple languages.

"The city of Marion is rapidly growing,” Marion IT Director Terence Henry told the Southern Illinoisian.  “We are also slowly but surely having an increase of a diverse population of people, and some of those people may speak a broken English, [so] we wanted to make sure that we are able to communicate."

Browsealoud is available to residents on any city website. Users can access it by clicking on the orange circle at the top of the page and selecting the options they want from the toolbar. They can have the website’s text translated into a specific language – the software supports 78 languages, 35 of them with voice translations.

After choosing a language, users can have the content read to them, or they can save the document as an MP3 file. Users can also indicate which text they want read aloud by highlighting it. To address vision impairments, users can magnify and change the color of text and background and reduce “on-screen clutter” by removing ads and other distracting content for easier reading.

Browsealoud can read the content of a webpage to the user in multiple languages, using a range of different voices. It can read most types of content, including tables, downloadable documents like pdfs and alt text for images.

Other government entities using Browsealoud on their sites include the state of Indiana, Frederick County, Md., Belmont, Mass., and the Social Security Administration.

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