This is, of course, the wrong way around for me, but I was reading Jacek's blogfeed and along came an item called "The scripted leading the blind."

There are two parts to this article. Part one is about Louise Later and Virtual Ability, Inc who are working on disabled access to Second Life. You can watch the video about their ideals and activities below.

What Louise has done is work on a guide dog and a white stick that use sensors to detect the surroundings and say in text what is around you. You can pick up your own copy at Wheelies.

Of course having this in text isn't so useful if you're blind. The other thing they use is EVA: Essential Voicechat Advancement. This is, in effect, a plug-in for Windows that reads the chat log and reads it out via the system's text-to-voice system. This should be doable in other OSes too - Macs certainly have text-to-voice built into the system software. Obviously being Windows software I've not tried it yet, and the description of EVA is written in colourful English (I think the author is a native German speaker and his English is far better than my German, but it does read a little like it was translated via an automatic translater) but it reads as if there are systems to configure the voices used, possibly on a per-avatar basis, and tools to convert abbreviations into words/sounds: e.g. LOL could become a laugh. EVA is a free download and may well be worth a look.

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