What is most unlikely visitor on your site? Users (potential customers as anyone) with impaired vision.
But how true is this statement today? Well - to say least - it is about to change. While hearing impaired utilized web right from start and made it to their tool of choice.
For a user, whose vision is impaired - or is even completely blind, odds not very long ago were very dim, to take part in biggest improvement since invention of TV - World Wide Web.
Test to Speech Engines, Voice Recognition and Multimedia - all these tools have improved situation dramatically - and they far from being in experimental state.
Every once in while you have these encounters, where a customer tells you about his blind family member and how neglected they feel in respect to so many things.
And sometimes - they ask you, what they can do to address this group on their site.
When I started to take on this issue, I was first a little helpless, for this was a whole new area of expertise in Marketing and Web development. But soon it became clear that tools and means to implement something, allowing visitors with impaired vision to take advantage of a site.
The first step were voiceovers - presented as real media. A real bummer. But - production costs, considerations like bandwidth make them a tool, which cannot be applied all time.
And then I re-discovered Agents. Remember those little animated guys, Microsoft® introduced with Office 97? These guys - Microsoft® Agents - cannot only communicate with Balloons and interact with user - no. They can speak!
Utilizing a text to speech engine, MS® Agent Technology, and an Agent of your choice, you can make this cartoon character speak, whatever text you provide. And it is fast and what is more - they can even listen to voice commands and interact - which I will talk of in one of my next articles.
On all new Microsoft OS® Versions Agent technology is included anyway, and if not installed, download of it, DevKit and most of Agents is free.