The Pulse speaks up: New read-aloud tool prioritises accessibility for western Sydney communities

[tta_listen_btn listen_text=”Click here to have this article read aloud” pause_text=”Pause” resume_text=”Resume” replay_text=”Replay”]

In a significant move towards inclusivity and accessibility, Western Sydney Local Health District’s news platform ‘The Pulse’ has recently introduced a read-aloud feature for its articles, aimed at improving the accessibility of its content for a diverse range of readers across western Sydney.

This feature, powered by text-to-speech (TTS) technology, allows users to convert articles into audio, making them accessible to individuals with visual impairments, learning disabilities, or those who simply prefer audio over text.

We know that one in six people have a disability, and this tool empowers them to access the same news as everyone else. Additionally, it transforms articles into mini-audiobooks, enhancing convenience for busy readers.

Max Chen, Digital Communications & Strategy Officer at Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD)

Integrating the read-aloud tool into The Pulse website was a relatively straightforward process according to Max, leveraging Text to Speech plugins to add the feature on our site.

This new feature offers a variety of benefits to The Pulse’s audience.

Listening to articles can improve comprehension and information retention, which is especially helpful for individuals who prefer audio over text or those who struggle with reading difficulties.

The read-aloud tool also enhances accessibility for individuals with diverse needs.

People with visual impairments can now access the wealth of information on The Pulse’s website, while those with language barriers can benefit from hearing the articles read aloud.

“We aim to reach everyone in our community, and this tool is a significant step towards that goal of commitment to catering to diverse accessibility needs.”

This initiative has been applauded by Luke Taylor, WSLHD’s A/District Director Allied Health.

“Having information readily available in accessible formats is crucial for people with disabilities, those with language barriers, and individuals with reading difficulties,” he said.

The Pulse provides valuable health messages, and read-aloud functionality will ensure wider dissemination of this critical information.

WSLHD’s commitment to accessibility goes beyond The Pulse’s new tool.

“WSLHD is doing a number of activities to improve accessibility to our services for people with a disability. We have recently established two advisory groups: one for staff with a disability, and the other for consumers with a disability to advise us on ways to improve inclusion for people living with a disability.

“In 2024, we will be updating our WSLHD website. The new site will have a range of improvements to accessibility of information for our community.”