IBMs HPR Reads More Than Web Pages

By Anne Chen  |  Posted 2005-02-07

With 20/700 vision, one of my main concerns is whether Ill be able to surf the Web if my vision deteriorates with age.

My worries have been allayed—to some degree—with IBMs Home Page Reader, a browser for the visually impaired. IBMs latest version, Home Page Reader 3.04, was released last month and costs $142 per user. Volume discounts are available.

HPR 3.04 includes a desktop text-to-speech synthesizer, keyboard navigation and speech output for selected Windows applications, including the Windows desktop, as well as Adobe Reader 6.01 documents. New in HPR 3.04 is support for Macromedia Flash Player 7 movies.

Users can opt to have the program read the installation directions to them. I found this installation worked well, although I could barely make out the words on the screen without my contacts.

HPR lets visually impaired users open URLs, read a page, stop, hear a link, follow that link and fast-forward through portions of a page if theyre of no interest.

It became tedious to hear the reader repeat the URL of every page I tried to open, but it was easy enough to fast-forward using a series of keyboard commands. I was also able to increase the font size, color and type, to make it easier for me to read the Web page.

More information about the HPR is at

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