News & Media
This past Monday Recite Me CEO Ross Linnett stopped by BBC Radio Newcastle to have a chat with Jonathan Miles. During the interview Ross talked about Dyslexia, from his days at school, being diagnosed at University, to starting a business to help aid people in the same position as him. You can listen to the interview by clicking the links below Listen to Part 1 here Listen to Part 2 here
Given the fact we live and breathe web accessibility here at Recite we are always on the look out for those who share our passions. We found the following article by Gosia Mlynarczyk, an Accessibility Consultant for Nomensa, on their humanising technology blog, and thought it was worth sharing. One quote we feel needs to be highlighted in neon and underlined for all to see, is the statement that: “it is estimated that around 10% of the population worldwide has a disability that affects Internet use. This means accessibility affects potentially over 600 million people worldwide. Hardly a demographic anyone should ignore. The seven accessibility myths discussed in the blog are that (we recommend reading it in full): Accessible websites are ugly and boring - Accessible websites are only ugly and boring if you really want them to be; Web accessibility is expensive, time-consuming & hard to implement - Creating them doesn’t take years, cost a fortune and/or require an army of geniuses; Accessible sites only benefit small percentages of people - They benefit few people. Few billions in fact; Web accessibility is optional - Web accessibility is totally optional, if you don’t mind being sued and taken to court; Web accessibility is the sole responsibility of developers - The Web would be a better place, if we all stopped pointing fingers and took the responsibility; Automated evaluation tools are enough - Until artificial intelligence reaches the level of human intelligence, automated accessibility testing is not enough; Making websites accessible doesn’t have any additional benefits - Web accessibility comes with many freebies. Now why would you say no to that? Gosia also pointed out that the case against BMI Baby by the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB) is not an isolated one, and is therefore something all companies ought to be considering. BMI Baby and the RNIB agreed to work together, out of court, and we were saddened to see BMI ceased operations earlier this month after British Airways couldn’t find a buyer. We hope other travel companies will try and pick up where they left off, without the need for another law suit. In fact British Airways themselves are working with AbilityNet a leading accessibility charity to review their websites accessibility. Text to speech software solutions, like Recite, is one of the most effective, unobtrusive solutions to ensuring instant accessibility. Other examples of this kind of action were pointed out in the blog post. In Australia, in 2000, the Olympics organising committee were sued by a blind man over their inaccessible website, and in America, “target.com and, recently, netflix.com were also successfully sued” over their websites. The internet is as much a part of modern life as mobile phones, air travel, and roads. No one should be denied access. No one should be left outside in the cold.
Any self-respecting business owner will recognise the importance of reaching the widest possible audience. But if a tool as modest as their business card is a barrier for some, are opportunities being missed? Nowadays business cards are almost unique as a means of written promotion that remain a physical entity. They can’t be formatted to meet their recipient’s individual needs, instead requiring inclusive design at source to accommodate all-comers. Here are some of the factors you might consider: 1. Who are you designing for? It is reckoned that: around 10% of the population are dyslexic, by 2050 there will be over 4 million people in the UK with some degree of sight loss and; approximately 1 in 10 men suffer from colour-blindness. That’s a lot of people, to all of whom your business might appeal if presented the right way. The following tips won’t exclude anybody but they could help you to include nearly everybody! 2. What are their needs? Dyslexic people prefer: Matte paper, thick enough that text on the other side doesn’t show through. A minimum font size of at least 12 – 14pt. Plain, sans serif fonts. Dark (not black) text against a light (not white), pastel background. Visually impaired people prefer: Matte paper, thick enough that text on the other side doesn’t show through. A minimum font size of 16pt. If this is not practical try to use at least 14pt. Plain, sans serif fonts. Dark text against a light background. Colour-blindness is an inability to differentiate between certain colours, the most prevalent pairing being red or pink and green. Try to avoid this combination to increase the accessibility of your design. 3. General good practice The following tips are good ideas for producing all accessible documents, be they business cards or not! Headings Use bold and / or increase the font size to differentiate headings from body text. Avoid underline, italic and block capitals, all of which can be harder to read. Images Avoid images as backgrounds to text as the letters and words will appear confused. Text alignment Align text to the left, particularly so visually impaired people can track where lines of text begin. Don’t justify text. Varying the spaces between letters and words makes it harder to tell where a line ends. Keep it horizontal! Vertically aligned text is much harder to read. Written By Oliver Smith on behalf of Vistaprint
Web accessibility is our driving passion here at Recite. So we like to give a shout out when we see other organisations and companies championing this issue. We noted here the case in the UK between BMI Baby and the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB), which resulted in an agreement to resolve the issue. In the US the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has been very active in the defence of blind students across a range of universities. During 2010 - 2011 the NFB supported students in Penn State, Florida State, Wright State, New York University and Northwestern University, which were all hit with law suits in defence of blind students over numerous accessibility failings. The NFB filing in federal court against NYU and Northwestern over the use of Google Apps for Education because “by adopting Google e-mail and other programs that aren’t fully compatible with technology that translates written words into speech” they are violating “the Americans with Disabilities Act.” Some of these cases are still working there way through the courts. Penn State University has already entered into an agreement to make the necessary changes to their websites and e-learning resources. An even bigger victory was scored a month ago in a Federal court in New York. This case will have consequences around the word, and we encourage those with accessibility concerns about there own websites to take notice. The case was between The Authors Guild and HathiTrust, a massive repository of digital books, which has been supported by Google and universities as they undertake the mammoth task of digitalising paper books. The Atlantic noted the key part of the courts reasoning, in favour of HathiTrust, comes down to the issue that “the Americans With Disabilities Act does not merely make this activity legal, it may even require it.” This means text to speech solutions could be one of the ways corporations avoid these kinds of law suits in the future.
Recite are please to announce that their main man Ross Linnett has been named as one of the North East's most influencial people 2012 by The Journal. He has also been featured as one the up and coming Entrepenuers of the year... Watch this Space!....... "Welcome to the fifth edition of the Most Influential People in the North East, our annual publication that turns the spotlight on those individuals who are shaping the destiny of our region........[Continue Reading]"
South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, is without a doubt the unequaled tech and music event on the startup calendar. It is an essential gathering place in the tech universe. So, naturally, I was bouncing on the balls of my feet, with excitement, whilst waiting in the Newcastle International Airport departure lounge for my flight to the lone star state. I was the only one representing Recite, and would be the sole voice for my team at the HatchPitch competition. I was nervous and excited about this, in equal measure. My jet-lag from a recent trade visit to Australia certainly didn’t help my frame of mind, either. What I hadn’t counted on was meeting a couple people from back home. But isn’t that always the case - you cross an ocean and a continent, just to meet someone who lives a few miles away? My surprise was greater still when that person was Kieron Donoghue, founder of ShareMyPlaylists (the largest app on Spotify’s API, with over 1.5 million unique visitors per month). He already knew of Recite, knew my face already, and we ended up having a great time in Texas. We were joined by Paul Smith, author of The Twitchhiker, which starts with Paul in a hotel at a previous SXSW being interviewed by Good Morning America, after only a few hours sleep. Missing sleep is not uncommon for those attending SXSW. I recommend banking it before or after, and drinking copious amounts of coffee or energy drinks. Paul is program director of Europe’s first £1m incubator, ignite100, which at the time of writing is currently entering its second year. Recite had got down to the final 12, from 87 applicants, in the HatchPitch competition. It was my first chance to present to executives and entrepreneurs of this calibre. I had barely slept. I was jet-lagged. I had a butterfly greenhouse occupying the space where my stomach once existed. The judges panel included people like Don Dodge, a Developer Advocate for Google, Chris Bernard, who launched Microsoft’s BizSpark program, and Nicole Glaros of TechStars. Thinking of the credentials of the panel before me didn’t help my nerves. The butterflies turned into angry winged demons as I watched other contestants being meticulously pulled apart by the judges. After nearly five hours of watching the startup equivalent of Christians in the arena being thrown to the lions, I stood up. I took a deep breath, and gave my presentation. When I sat back down, sweat condensing on my body, an investor from the Valley turned to me and said, “you were the no brainer. You will have no problem raising funds. Good luck.” I managed a surprised thank you, and exhaled. The results came through within the hour. Recite placed third! I was thrilled. It had all been worth it. A weight lifted off my shoulders, my whole body felt lighter. And with that I left the Paul and Kieron, and we partied, in true startup style, like pirates. My experience at SXSW was one of several victories this year, which served as an example of how 2012 has been about validating the original vision, taking leaps forward, and positioning ourselves for even bigger and better things to come. Watch this space.
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.