The assistive technology called 'Recite Me' will allow the user to easily adapt the website with their own preferred settings. It will even remember those settings for any other website which uses Recite Me.
The Council is delighted with this significant addition to their website which will remove barriers. It will help web visitors who have a range of needs including those with common conditions like sight loss, dyslexia and learning difficulties.
With around 1 in 5 people reported to have a disability and 10% of the population thought to be dyslexic, there is clear evidence that access to information is absolutely necessary. Information needs to be presented in a way that is understood by all.
The new, easy-to-use functions will include the ability to change font sizes and colours to make reading text easier, to customise the background colour or even to access a dictionary and thesaurus. It also has the option to read text aloud, including on PDF documents, in multiple languages.
Cllr Nicky Hopwood, Executive Member for Communications at South Hams District Council, said: "I'm really passionate about good communication with our communities so I'm excited by this new technology which can only be a good thing. We're investing in our residents to revolutionise the way we engage with them and will completely change the way people access our information.
"It's important to realise that not just those people who are classified as having additional needs will benefit though; anyone who finds reading difficult will be able to increase the size of line spacing, font size or colour background. They can use a ruler, magnifying glass or shading to highlight the information they need while cutting out background distractions. There are lots of different tools which will help a wide range of difficulties.
"Residents who in the past might have had to rely on others, or who had to call our contact centre for information or help will now be able to find information easily online about our services.
"We mustn't forget anyone who has English as a second language, whether they be residents or visitors. To be able to quickly and easily translate any webpage into any of the 100 available languages is brilliant.
"It's truly fantastic and I urge everyone to have a go to see how it will help their use of our website."
With one in ten people in the UK who don't speak English as their first language, and of course, visitors from home and abroad coming to the South Hams, the website will also be able to translate pages into over 100 languages at a simple click of a button.
To try the new assistive technology, Recite Me, go to www.southhams.gov.uk and click on "Enable Accessibility Tools" at the top right of the screen.
If you, or a family member, needs further support from our Localities team on how to get the most from Recite Me, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and they will be pleased to help.
22 June 2020