News & Media
The internet should be accessible to everyone. But it isn’t. For people with dyslexia, visual impairment and learning difficulties it can be confusing, duanting, and inaccessible. With the school term in full swing it’s worth considering what the internet, and online interactive whiteboard based lessons, are like for children with dyslexia and visual impairment. Ross Linnett, founder of Recite - an accessibility software startup - recently profiled in The Journal, was one of those children. It is estimated that dyslexia affects 375,000 students, who are amongst six million people severely affected by dyslexia in the UK. Instead of the internet being a comfortable fast moving stream of information, it is often confusing, daunting, and intimidating. As Ross said in a Journal article this February, the ‘government best practice on web accessibility is based on the international W3C guidelines. These are focused on the need to maintain the internet as a forum open to all, with no barriers to communication and interaction.’ In the UK approximately 10% 15-20% of the population suffer from some kind of visual or learning impairment which makes the internet less accessible to them. Recite is far from the only one fighting to make the internet more accessible. The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) served legal proceedings against BMI Baby for their failing to make their website accessible to blind customers. Deals and offers change frequently online, which is the case for any large travel website. Booking holidays and flights is expensive enough without needing to call an 0845 number. They later agreed with work with the RNIB to make the website more accessible, prior to them closing when British Airways unfortunately failed to find a buyer. In March, at SXSW in Austin, Texas, we came third out of 87 in the HatchPitch competition. Another month, another continent, another competition. This time it was the European Tech All Stars award, where we placed in the top 12 out of 257 entrants from across the EU. Only recently, at the Dublin Web Summit, we got to the semi-finals against 1000 startups from 36 countries, presenting in front of some of the most well respected figures in the tech sector. We are happy with our progress, but there is so much more we can do. Our aim is to keep pushing forward, into new markets, to get our platform on as many websites as possible, because the internet should be open to everyone. But it isn’t. We will do everything we can to change this. Dominic Tarn
Australia isn’t the only country which is ahead of England when it comes to dyslexia. North of the border, in Scotland, it was national Dyslexia Awareness Week from the 1st - 7th November. We were pleased to see just how enthusiastically Scotland has taken to promoting the issue of dyslexia. This has been run between Dyslexia Scotland and Edinburgh City Libraries, supported by the Bank of New York Mellon. Cathy Magee, Dyslexia Scotland's CEO said "We're really pleased that three of Dyslexia Scotland's Ambassadors are kicking off the week with a spotlight on sport at the Opening Night.” Those championing this included the writers Cathy MacPhail, Sally Gardner and Tommy Donbavand, and Paul McNeill from the Scottish Football Association. The award winning film 'The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia', by James Redford was shown at the Edinburgh Filmhouse to launch the week. The theme of the week was ‘Hidden Dyslexia’, which like the movie, ‘The Big Picture’ is drawing attention to the fact that too often it goes unnoticed, and therefore the right amount of support isn’t given. Dyslexia is also picking up bipartisan political support in Washington DC. Republican congressman Pete Stark and Democrat, Bill Cassidy, both parents of children with dyslexia, have called for solutions to be given greater attention. This will get more public scrutiny and support with the screening of The Big Picture on the US network, HBO, throughout the rest of 2012. Solutions the caucus will be exploring are text to speech software providers, like Recite, especially technologies which keep pace with the evolution of how users now access the internet. You can find out more about The Big Picture here.
In the digital world of the internet design is everything. Design strips away, cuts to the core of purpose and functionality, and takes us to the very limits of our imagined potential. The best design is simple. It makes a democracy of the web, putting this powerful communication tool at the disposal of everyone with an internet connection......[Continue Reading] Text to speech online solutions make the web more accessible for everyone who needs it, without needing downloads or complex installations because everything is managed from the cloud for the convenience of the web visitors and clients.
A disability has proved to be the springboard for success for Ross Linnett, as Peter Jackson discovers. Ross Linnett watched British athletes triumphing in this summer's Olympic Games with mixed feelings. He shared in the patriotic jubilation, but there was also a sense of regret, of what might have been......[continue reading] The vision behind Recite is to be the leading online text to speech cloud solution which will make the web more accessible to everyone.
Recite entered its third contest this year, this time in Dublin, Ireland. At the Dublin Web Summit. This is one of Europe's largest web conferences, held on the 17th - 18th October, where startups from all across the EU come together to network, compete and compare. We also were entered into the Electric Ireland Spark of Genius Competition. The summit has not been without controversy. Patrick Collison, CEO of Stripe, the online payments system got up on stage to make a point that countries like Ireland still don't have the right kind of environment to build successful startups. Stripe is worth $500 million, and has employees 30. "I don't think we could have done it [in Ireland]," Collison said. He cited education and the investment culture which would of held back the growth of his company. This goes against the message of the Irish government, which like the British is hoping to encourage innovation, but maybe those in the investment and entrepreneurial community will listen and take note. The competition narrows it down from 1000 startups, to the leading 100, based on criteria to which an 'innovative product or service idea' is crucial. The panel includes Mike Butcher and Alexia Tsotsis (TechCrunch senior Editors), Robin Wauters (The Next Web) and leading VC's from Silicon Valley, including Google Ventures, Index Ventures & Andreessen Horowitz. The panel are industry leading experts, who see hundreds of ideas across their respective desks every week. It is rare to have so many well respected figures and firms represented in one conference like this. Their combined knowledge, judgement and insight is formidable. We were up against some very tough competition, with over 4 times as many competing against us as we did in the 2012 EU Tech All Stars Awards (where we placed third). Out of 1000 we made it into the Semi Final, which consisted of 16 teams. Getting this far is a real accomplishment. Congratulations to this years winner Smart Things and finalists Tic Tail, Wild Chords and Vibease. This has proven a fantastic experience to showcase our innovative text to speech solution, and we hope to be back again next year.
Sharing content - from articles you read online to songs you are listening to - is as much a part of social media now as smiley faces and animated graphics were when instant messaging first started. Everyone shares everything. That might be an exaggeration, but not by much, and Léonie Watson at Nomensa seems to agree Sharing is an essential element of social media for the following reasons: How we all interact within social networks - Facebook, Twitter, Google+ (and the myriads of others) - ecosystems, between people we know, and people who follow our actions and content we promote. How we interact between the web outside and the ‘walled gardens’ of our social networks. Sharing opens a gate between the two, but it is a gate we as individual users can control. Advertising revenue. The more you like, share, and tweet content, the more data social networks can collect on you as a user. Making it that much easier to target relevant advertising at you - as your interests are more accurately recorded. We live in an era unprecedented for the data footprint we are leaving of our actions. All of this contributes to information collected, collated, and used for marketing purposes. Mad Men would look a lot less sexy discussing data analytics, but that’s what modern marketing is about. That is what sharing comes down to. But without it social networks would be very dull walled gardens. For those who are visually impaired or dyslexic sharing is not quite so simple. Not if you are on the web outside and wish to share what you have just read on a social network. It comes down to where the buttons are placed on a website. Léonie of Nomensa recommends they are positioned after the content - if you are a web manager - that you wish your audience to share. Some web publishing platforms, like Wordpress, makes this easy. But many do not, and if it comes down to a choice, in order to make your website accessible to all then located at the bottom of the page. We hope you will like, tweet and +1 this article. Our buttons are located directly below.
Recite recently presented at HatchPitch at SXSW in Austin, Texas. Out of the initial 80 we were included in the final 15 companies that presented to a panel of judges, and we are pleased to announce that we finished in 3rd place. We received loads of great feedback from the judges and made some great contacts whilst we were there.
Recite will be heading to SXSW in Austin Texas are also pleased to announce that we are one of the finalists in the HATCH pitch competition. This is the first opportunity for Recite to demonstrate its innovative text to speech product to respected members of the US startup community, including those from Silicon Valley, San-Francisco and New York. HATCH is a pitch competition for startups with revolutionary ideas. They select fifteen finalists to present their business plans to a panel of corporate, angel, and venture investor judges in front of a well-connected audience at the SXSW 2012 Startup Village on March 11th, 2012 in Austin, TX. Recite will also be presenting at the South By South West Interactive UK Demo Day Event.
Recite is proud to announce we have signed our first Australian Clients following a series of trader visits. Moreland City Council a local authority in the state of Victoria and the Starlight Children's Foundation a charity for young people with serious illnesses are amongst the first international clients to snap up the new text to speech software. It is estimated that around 10 percent of Australians suffer from dyslexia or visual impairment and, because the economic downturn there has been less severe than in the UK, companies and organisations are still willing to invest in the latest online technologies. Web accessibility laws are also much stricter than in the UK, presenting clear opportunities for the Recite platform, which includes text-to-speech, text resizing and colour-coding of text to help users gain full access to a website. Recite recently had it's official launch in Australia and is now looking to gain more clients and then expand into the US.