A considerable number of the Danish adult population has reading difficulties to an extent that prevents them from acquiring written information. An international survey in 2000 showed that approximately 30% of the Danish adult population had significant problems in reading everyday texts. Since the introduction of the Internet, more and more essential information is now being published on the World Wide Web enabling easy access to textual information for those to whom the Internet is a daily and unproblematic information source. In contrast, people with poor reading abilities, are being left behind with even greater disadvantages than they had before if not given access to tools enabling them to compensate for their difficulties. The aim of the Access for All-project (AFA) is to establish a free Internet service that can be used by the target group as a compensatory tool providing audio access to the increasing amount of textual information. The AFA Internet service thus offers a tool for reading aloud any marked text on web pages with a synthetic voice. With the freely available remote control installed users mark the text and press a play-button on the remote control. The remote control sends the marked text to the web-server carrying the speech synthesizer, which analyzes the text and converts it into synthetic speech. The speech-server then returns a sound-file to the end-user?s computer where it is automatically read aloud. The only requirement to the end-user?s computer is a recent Windows OS and an Internet connection and the free remote control that is downloaded from the AFA homepage - i.e. no speech synthesis software need by installed in the end-user's computer. By the end of 2003 the AFA service is being used by a steadily increasing number of users for reading aloud highly diverse texts. A survey documented that a number of schools are now using the service as a tool in their teaching of people with reading difficulties. The project was originally funded by the Digital North Denmark, from the local public authorities and by the participating partners, each with one third of the total cost. From the beginning of 2004 ?Nordjyllands Amt? has taken over the financial support of the project.
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