Accessibility to information is one of the most important necessities in life, so it is crucial to find a way for all groups of people, including those with visual impairments, to access information. The Jelgava.lv website provides a text reader that reads the published information on the site. This enhances the accessibility of the website and ensures that its content is reflected in two ways – both audibly and visually.
It’s worth mentioning that in June, 2023, the Jelgava municipality made available a newly designed and more user-friendly website for residents. The structure has been changed, and sections have been rearranged for easier navigation. The design of the Jelgava.lv website is also suitable for mobile devices, adapting to the specific screen size of a computer or phone. The navigation system has been modernized, information search improved, and the website’s functionality enhanced for easy use by both residents and municipality employees who publish content on Jelgava.lv daily.
Continuing to improve the functionality of the website, a “webReader” and “docReader” text reader have been integrated to make all of its content available in an audible format. This is made possible thanks to the natural-sounding voice synthesizer “Oskars”. The voice synthesizer provides the visitor of Jelgava.lv with the option to have the chosen text read aloud; the text is rendered in an audible audio format in Latvian (in Latvian language sections) and English (in English language sections).
The new tool is usable wherever the internet is available, supporting operating systems such as “Windows,” “Chrome,” “Android,” “iOS,” “macOS,” and others. It can be used on various devices like computers, smartphones, tablets, and similar ones.
The functionality of the Jelgava.lv website’s reading tool includes: pause/restart of audio playback, stopping reading, adjusting reading speed and volume, using the text highlighting option/bimodal reading (highlighting words and/or sentences). Website users have the option to listen to an open page or select specific sentences or paragraphs for audio playback.
Additionally, there is a translation function available in the reader – by hovering the cursor over the desired text and selecting the “Translation” option in the pop-up window, the selected text will be translated into the chosen language. Audio playback of the translation is available with the respective language’s voice synthesizer. Furthermore, there is a content download function – the text of the page can be downloaded as an audio file in mp3 format for personal use. Also available is the function to listen to attached documents online. The “docReader” reader provides playback of document formats such as .pdf, .doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx, .pps, .ppt, .pptx, .odp, .ods, .odt, .rtf, .epub.
Users of the Jelgava.lv website can explore other tool functions in the “Help” section of the voice synthesizer, where all the tool’s functions are explained in instructional format.