Q&A with Bracknell Forest Council

Bracknell Forest is one of the larger local authorities within the County of Royal Berkshire, located around one hour west of London. The Bracknell Forest Council has been speech-enabling its website with ReadSpeaker for the last two-and-a-half years.

I spoke with Colin Stenning, Bracknell Forest Council Website Manager, about online text to speech, accessibility, and his experience with ReadSpeaker.

Why is online accessibility so important to Bracknell Forest Council?
Accessibility has always been a key priority at Bracknell Forest Council. Everyone should have equal access to the internet and an accessible website will improve everyone’s experience of our website. Accessibility was a key priority during the recent redevelopment of the website and played a part in every aspect of the project. We implemented a range of accessibility features and thoroughly tested our site to make sure that it was fully accessible.

How long have you been providing a text-to-speech service?
We have been using a text-to-speech service for at least eight years.

What prompted you to choose ReadSpeaker as your preferred Provider?
We chose Readspeaker because it provides an exceptional service which can be seamlessly integrated into a website, rather than bolted on.

Do you know how many of your end-users use mobile devices to access content?
We have witnessed a rapid take-up in the usage of our website via mobile and tablet – see http://www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/websitestatistics

What is the business case/driver behind achieving optimal accessibility of your digital estate?
Everyone should have equal access to the internet and an accessible website will improve everyone’s experience of our website.

How easy was ReadSpeaker to implement?
Readspeaker was very straight forward to implement and this was greatly helped by the excellent technical support available.

How easy is it for your online communities to access ReadSpeaker’s Listen button?
We placed the Listen button at the top of each page and have found that this has helped usage. In the past it was rather hidden in the footer as an option which few people saw or bothered to use. By making it more prominent it has made it easier to find and use. We actively promote it’s use and have even developed a short video to encourage people to use it.

What do you think about the quality of the voice?
The voice used it excellent and there are options available to change settings to tailor it to an individual’s needs.

Would you recommend ReadSpeaker to similar organizations?
Readspeaker is an integral service on our website and one I’d be happy to recommend to other local authorities and organisations looking to implement a text to speech service.