VisitmaltaVisitmalta.com is the official tourism portal for the Maltese Islands and is managed by the Malta Tourism Authority. Its aim is to provide information about the islands of Malta, Gozo, and Comino as a tourism destination in the heart of the Mediterranean. Focusing on the main aspects of Malta’s tourism product – heritage, hospitality, and diversity – and highlighting the many things to see and do while on holiday there, the website is currently available in 10 languages. ReadSpeaker was implemented on the English and German versions of the site, with French, Italian and Spanish to follow shortly. I recently interviewed Michael Piscopo, Director, Visitmalta, about his experiences with ReadSpeaker. ReadSpeaker (RS): Why did you decide to speech-enable your website? Michael Piscopo (MP): Our website – visitmalta.com – is a destination information and marketing tool which aims to reach the widest possible target audience. We are aware that some people find problems accessing the information we provide in text format, due to visual impairments or reading difficulties. By speech-enabling our site, we have virtually eliminated these hurdles and significantly improved our website’s accessibility. RS: How did you learn about ReadSpeaker and its solutions? MP: We discovered ReadSpeaker quite by chance. I happened to be browsing a transport-related website and noticed the little speaker icon at the top of the page. I clicked on it and was impressed by the quality of the text-to-speech rendition. It was much closer to human speech, more fluent and more realistic than anything I had heard before. RS: How much effort was involved to add ReadSpeaker to your website? MP: Very little. Once we got the code, it was a matter of a few hours work to get it up and running. I think it took us longer to choose which voice to use from the various options provided (Male, Female, US English, UK English, etc) than to actually tag the site. RS: How have you benefited from having a talking website? MP: Apart from the obvious benefits in terms of increased marketing reach, I think the fact that we have invested in such a feature is also indicative of our efforts to remove barriers for visitors to our country. The holiday experience often starts online, and it is in our interest to make life easier for all our visitors, even before they get here. RS: How satisfied are your website visitors with the ReadSpeaker listen feature? MP: From the feedback we have received so far, our website visitors are very satisfied with the ReadSpeaker feature. Before introducing it to our site, we also sought advice from professionals in the field and the feedback we received from them was highly positive. We were also happy to discover that people are opting to listen to the information without having to read it on the screen, which ‘frees’ them to do something else at the same time. This is not surprising, considering how we are all leaning to multi-task. RS: Would you recommend that other organizations add ReadSpeaker to their website? MP: Without a doubt. It is cost-effective and makes an instant impact on every page of the website. With so many different languages already available, and more to come, ReadSpeaker is particularly ideal for companies and organizations operating in a geographically-diverse market. RS: Do you have any additional feedback about ReadSpeaker? MP: Well, I can add what when my developers needed assistance to customize ReadSpeaker for a new website that we are building, they found the ReadSpeaker support team extremely prompt and efficient.