NHS England invests in web accessibility

NHS England has added ‘read aloud’ and translation tools to its website in a move to boost accessibility.

The addition of Texthelp’s Browsealoud software – a free-to-use support tool which will read aloud and translate webpage content to users – follows NHS England’s belief that vital online health information should be accessible to everyone, regardless of income, gender, location, age, ethnicity or any other characteristic, whilst keeping the website at the heart of the NHS’s communications.

Browsealoud reads text out to web visitors, and for users whose first language isn’t English. It also allows visitors to access information in their preferred language. Web pages and PDFs can be read aloud in a choice of 40 of the most commonly spoken global languages, with text translation available in a choice of 99 languages. Web visitors can also magnify text size to suit their specific needs.

Other features to be rolled out include screen masking and a web page simplifier, to cut out peripheral content and help readers focus on specific text. A handy text-to-MP3 generator is also available which lets visitors create an audio file of text to listen to on their smartphone, tablet or computer, wherever and whenever it suits them. All features can be customised to suit individual user needs and preferences.

Scott Durairaj, experience of care lead at NHS England, said: “Living in an increasingly digital world, the NHS England website is often the first place people go for health information, so it is vital that it’s accessible to as many people as possible. One in ten people in the UK have literacy or language challenges meaning that accessing the information on websites can be difficult. That’s why we’ve introduced Browsealoud, to ensure that as many people as possible can easily access our information and services online.”

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