How to attract users, you never thought of !

Written By: Klaus J. Peter

What is the most unlikely visitor on your site? Users (potential customers as anyone) with
impaired vision.

But how true is this statement today? Well – to say the least – it is about to change.
While the hearing impaired utilized the web right from start and made it to their tool of choice.

For a user, whose vision is impaired – or is even completely blind, the odds not very long ago were very dim, to take part in the biggest improvement since the invention of TV – the World Wide Web.

Test to Speech Engines, Voice Recognition and Multimedia – all these tools have improved the situation dramatically – and they far from being in the 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 the tools and the 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 – the production costs, considerations like bandwidth make them a tool, which cannot be applied all the time.

And then I re-discovered the Agents. Remember those little animated guys, Microsoft introduced with Office 97? These guys – the Microsoft Agents – cannot only communicate with Balloons and interact with the user – no. They can speak!

Utilizing a text to speech engine, the 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 the Agent technology is included anyway, and if not installed,
the download of it, the DevKit and most of the Agents is free.

Scripts make sure that the user can download needed or missing parts automatically, and from then on – he is fully prepared

The integration into a site is no harder, than working with any given Java Script.
There are even tools available, to support you writing the “action” script.

So why would you do that?
To begin with – it improves the quality of life for people, you have enough problems anyway.
But if you want to have a more practical use – Offering these service now – where almost no one is doing that will make your site stand out – and visitors with impaired vision value that and remember. The rate of endorsement you may be able to achieve is much higher than with the
“ordinary” visitor.

In my example – in almost 20% of all new gigs, we are being asked to implement Agent Technology – from Zero % 18 months ago. I would say, that this is a significant increase.
The community of people with impaired vision is tight nit – and if you’re site is a good source for information, products etc., you can be sure, that once the word is out – it won’t hurt your

Bottom Line is, the odds are, that, if you’re doing it right, promote this Site ability and
update your content once in a while, you will attract a new clientele, and even if the worst
thing happens, and you don’t make any improvement in your visitor frequency – you still have the benefit of being able to lean back and say – I did something good, today.

Here are some links – to get you into the developing mood:

Microsoft Agent home page
Agent Resources
The Script Helper Mash

So be good, do something for the life quality of citizens with impaired vision and your business and have fun doing it.

About the Author

Klaus J. Peter

Previous post:

Next post: