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New software helps visually impaired, improves web access

by Sherry Fisher - September 11, 2006

The University has a new software license that will help people with visual impairments retrieve information from UConn web pages.

The LIFT Text Transcoder efficiently converts web pages with images, style, color, and text into text-only sites, which helps people who have visual limitations.

It also assists those who access UConn webpages via cell phones, PDAs, and other portable devices: All-text pages can be downloaded quickly, and are easier to see on a small screen.

The application can be used on any web page that is hosted on the University's central web server.

"It is helping advance the University's commitment to web accessibility," says David Martel, director of electronic communication in the Division of Enrollment Management.

Martel says purchase of the software license allows any school, college, department, or institute that hosts web content on the UConn's main server access to the application.

Mark J. Roy, web manager in University Communications, says the software eliminates the need to create two sets of web pages.

"In the past, we had to create our own text versions of web pages, with one being text only," he says.

"As we redesigned, and provided greater levels of interaction, it became more difficult to maintain two sets of the same information. Now all you have to do is click on 'text only' at the bottom of a page to retrieve information that is all text."

Donna Korbel, director of the Center for Students with Disabilities, says the software will benefit many people at the University. "It's important to the institution," she says, noting that it particularly benefits people who use screen readers - software that reads web pages aloud.

"It will be helpful to everyone here, but also to prospective students and others interested in the University," Korbel says.

"I am so excited because it benefits all constituencies."

The software is easy to use. To learn more about adding this new feature to your web page, visit http://www.uconn.edu/info/text-only.php

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