The Municipality of Leichhardt is a local government area located in Sydney, Australia. In 2014, the Leichhardt Municipal Council selected ReadSpeaker as its text-to-speech technology provider of choice in order to increase digital accessibility of the website. We spoke with Jessica Prochazkova, web coordinator at the municipality, about the decision to use ReadSpeaker’s text-to-speech technology. The Leichhardt Council area is generally highly educated, with approximately 71% of the population having completed Year 12 of schooling as of 2011 (Source: Profile ID). However, a significant portion of the population (2.1% as of 2011) is a non-native English speaker who speaks English not well or not at all. Leichhardt Council wants its services and information to be available for all people, including those with language or reading difficulties.
Leichhardt Municipal Council was approached by a range of text-to-speech technology providers. However, the council ultimately selected ReadSpeaker as, Jessica states, “the product was by far the easiest to navigate. It was also hugely helpful that consultants were local (in Australia).”
ReadSpeaker was very easy to implement on the website. The CMS support team of the council had “no problems with instructions on implementing, and any queries were resolved super-fast even though support was overseas.” Leichhardt Municipal Council especially appreciates the ease at which online communities can access ReadSpeaker’s listen button. About one-fifth of the municipality’s end users use mobile devices to access content, and consequently it is important that all available services and technologies be accessible via these devices as well. ReadSpeaker’s technology is compatible with all devices, including mobile, and works wit hall browsers. The feedback Leichhardt Municipal Council has received about the text-to-speech technology has been entirely positive. The entire senior staff of the council understood how ReadSpeaker’s technology could benefit so many people. However, the council will continue to ensure its website is accessible, and is currently looking at products to help creation of accessible PDFs.