Google’s Official Blog (as well as the online magazine Mobile & Apps) highlighted Web Reader, a new Bookshare reading tool, as part of announcing Google new accessibility features. Those features make it easier for people who are blind or have low vision to use the Google suite of Web apps.
Web Reader lets Bookshare members read Bookshare books directly from within their Internet browser, without having to download any special software. A user simply finds the book s/he wants to read and selects “Read Now” on any computer with an Internet connection and supported Internet browser. Both posts note that at the 28th annual CSUN International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, Bookshare demonstrated how it uses Google Chrome’s newly developed support for speech recognition capabilities “to deliver a fully integrated ebook reader for users with print disabilities.”
The current version of Web Reader is optimized for Google Chrome and provides text-to-speech with a computer’s installed voice, word highlighting and more. This latest stable version of Chrome includes support for the Web Speech Application Programming Interface (API), which developers can use to integrate speech recognition capabilities into their apps. Web Reader uses this new functionality to deliver the “Read Now” fully integrated, instant reading experience for Bookshare members.