Individuals can subscribe to Talklets and listen to content over the web, and Website owners can make Talklets available to their visitors. I invited Phil Teare, the lead developer behind Talklets, to provide some background information behind the concept.

Author: Phil Teare



I've been working in the field of enablement for nearly 10 years; the last 6 or 7 of which have been mainly focused on dyslexia, and other reading difficulties. Despite dyslexia, Irlens syndrome, speakers of other languages, and other hindrances to reading being far more common than total or near total sight loss, the only assistive technology available to this audience were screen readers. This technology is obviously very useful to its primary audience, but quite frankly, sighted people would not want to use it. There are also text resizing tools, but these are not always helpful on their own for most people who have reading difficulties.

I had also found, through feedback for a previous product targeted directly at the dyslexic market, that a lot of people without any need for reading aids found text to speech useful. Frustrated with what was available, I decided to make something for the 10-20% of the population who have reading difficulties, but who are not blind, and don't want to learn lots of hotkeys, and that others could also use as a funky utility.

Empowering People with Reading Difficulties

I soon realised it would be possible to build a utility that could help people with reading difficulties directly over the web, without requiring a download for the vast majority of users. I'm severely dyslexic, but this tool means that I could pop into an internet cafe on the way home from work and listen to the news of my choosing, use my text to speech software at work, at a friend's house, or when I was on the move. For people like me, this is very empowering — no longer would I need admin rights on the machine I was sitting at to install software.

The Future

We are currently looking at a version for low-to-no vision users. We have also just released Newslets, which turn RSS feeds (from blogs, news feeds, etc) into audio podcasts. Our aim is to blur the line between fun new utilities with real-world applications that as well as being fun for everyone, are also accessible to people with disabilities.

Category: Accessibility.


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