WebbIE Browser for
Blind and Vision-Impaired Hams
This article is for blind and vision-impaired hams who are interested in the WebbIE browser. This free software converts web pages into a format that can be read with any screen reader. It can also display the translated pages using high visibility text.
WebbIE was developed at the University of Manchester School of Informatics. Currently, Alasdair King, PhD, develops the software, which is available at the WebbIE site. Dr. King is the director of Claro Software, an international software development company specializing in assistive technology.
WebbIE can be used with any screen reader, so the user does not have to learn a new set of complicated reader commands. The "IE"part of the name refers to the fact that WebbIE uses components of Internet Explorer.
The website includes an article that describes the challenges of reading web pages using a screen reader. WebbIE makes this easier by first removing scripts and graphic elements (including animated banners and videos), so the content will not change while it is being read. WebbIE then sorts out each page into a single-column text document that is easy to navigate with a screen reader. The Wikipedia article about WebbIE describes how an ActiveX control is used to parse web pages.
The hyperlinks are listed at the beginning of each section, and pressing the Return/Enter key follows a chosen link. Or, they can all be removed (Control-K) to simplify the text. Control-W brings up a Google Search Window for entering search terms.
The WebbIE browser has a user-friendly interface with a small set of intuitive keyboard commands. A cursor is provided for navigation. It is easy to toggle between the reader-friendly version and the html web page. The helpful User Manuals in four languages include brief tutorials (Start Menu → All Programs → Accessible and WebbIE folder).
For sighted users WebbIE can display the screen reader-friendly page using high visibility text with a choice of type size, font, and black or white background.
Sixteen additional small applications are included with WebbIE (Start Menu → All Programs → Accessible and WebbIE folder). Disk Explorer makes it easy to navigate the directory tree of the computer using a screen reader. A PDF reader is also included. Other Applications access Internet resources including news and audio.
Thanks to Brian Semmel, W1BLS, and Kathy High, KB1OLH, for recommending WebbIE.
Peter DeNeef, AE7PD, is an Extra Class amateur radio operator in the U.S. This website has no ads or conflicts of interest.
Email: HamRadioAndVision "at" gmail "dot" com