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Visually impaired get talking browser

Internet software vendor Productivity Works in Trenton, New Jersey, has unveiled a browser that talks to the user to help the visually impaired get World Wide Web access.

Internet software vendor Productivity Works in Trenton, New Jersey, has unveiled a browser that talks to the user to help the visually impaired get World Wide Web access.

Called pwWebSpeak, the browser translates information content from Web pages into speech. The intelligence built into the browser reads HTML code and automatically disregards non-HTML content such as graphics and multimedia.

The browser also creates large character interpretations of Web pages for partially sighted users.

There are 27 million visually impaired individuals in the United States and Europe, according to Productivity Works.

The company will begin beta testing pwWebSpeak in March. Beta testers must be visually impaired, have a PC running Windows 3.1 or Windows 95, Internet access running a TCP/IP connection, and an audio card. The browser will be available in April for free. The company is asking for a $100 maintenace fee, but will waive the cost if needed, according to officials.

Productivity Works was assisted in developing the browser by De Witt and Associates interface consultants and the Thomas Edison State College.