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Home Page Reader 3.04 Launch

New IBM Web Browser Speaks Volumes About Accessibility

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Orlando, FL, USA - 19 Jan 2005: IBM today announced a new talking Web browser, designed to help businesses meet both growing regulatory requirements and the needs of employees and customers who are blind, visually impaired, or elderly, by allowing them to navigate increasingly complex Web sites.

The new version of the software, called IBM Home Page Reader, not only speaks the text on a Web page, it also reads embedded descriptions of the charts, graphs, photos and captions so frequently used in business, and it can interpret popular multimedia and video files. It can also be used as a tool to test the accessibility and usability of Web sites, helping software developers meet worldwide Web accessibility guidelines.

"IBM Home Page Reader is a striking example of what a mainstream company can do when it chooses to develop a product that is useful to persons with disabilities," said Don Barrett, assistive technology specialist, U.S. Department of Education.

"It's a product IBM can and should be proud of, and it underscores their commitment to accessible information technology."
Home Page Reader version 3.04 is available in eight languages: Brazilian Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Spanish, English, Thai and Japanese.
IBM is demonstrating the innovative Home Page Reader version 3.04 software at the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) conference here this week.

The latest version of Home Page Reader is particularly geared to companies and organizations whose employees use the Internet to gather information they need for their daily work, and to communicate with customers, suppliers and other businesses. It gives users who are blind or visually impaired equal access to content from the Internet, an increasingly important source of information and interaction in business and daily life.

"Home Page Reader is designed not only to help companies and organizations meet government requirements for accessibility, but to dramatically boost the productivity of their employees as well," said Frances West, director of IBM's Worldwide Accessibility Center. "Opening up the information resources of the Web is good for business, individuals and for society as a whole."

Broadening access to Web-based materials can allow more people with disabilities to keep working. It also makes good business sense. The National Organization on Disabilities estimates that there are nearly 54 million disabled people in the U.S. alone, with $1 trillion in total income and $225 billion in disposable income.

Home Page Reader will serve the needs of the aging workforce as well. The number of workers between ages 55 and 64 in the U.S. workforce is increasing about 2 percent per year according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. And many workers, because of increasing longevity and shrinking pension plans, are choosing to work well beyond the traditional retirement age of 65.
New Features of Home Page Reader version 3.04 include:

Home Page Reader version 3.04, which sells for U.S. $142, is available to individuals at www.ibm.com/able. Home Page Reader is also available in larger quantities for businesses and organizations wanting to enhance access to company Web sites and the Internet; for more information contact John Evans, business development manager, IBM Worldwide Accessibility Center, at evansjw@us.ibm.com.

About IBM
IBM is the world's largest information technology provider and a worldwide leader in e-business solutions. The company has more than 300,000 employees and does business in more than 160 countries.

Part of the IBM Research organization, the worldwide Accessibility Center fosters product accessibility, works toward the adoption of worldwide standards and applies innovative technologies to solve problems experienced by workers with disabilities and other limitations.

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