Voiced by Amazon Polly
Accessibility has been a huge conversation in WordPress recently. At WordCamp US in 2017, nearly half of the talks focused on accessibility issues. It is an area where many sites can do better.
While there are many plugins and tools to help boost accessibility, one area WordPress falls a bit short is text to speech. This is an invaluable tool for anyone who is vision impaired. Screen readers are out there but they can be clunky and if a site isn’t optimized for them, they can fail.
In order to further these efforts and a partnership with WordPress, Amazon released Polly, a text to speech plugin.
What is Polly?
The Polly plugin for WordPress is multi-featured, offering both an embeddable player into WordPress content as well as providing additional media channels for syndication such as Podcast.
According to AWS, “Amazon Polly is a service that turns text into lifelike speech. With dozens of voices across a variety of languages, you can select the ideal voice and build engaging speech-enabled applications that work in many different countries. With the Amazon Polly plugin for WordPress, you can generate an audio feed for text-based content and insert it into an embedded player to increase the accessibility of your WordPress site.”
Integration into iTunes is planned for an initial release with the intent of targeting the “commuter” or hand-free consumer. Further applications could include accessibility support and in-home voice assistants.
This service will do a great deal for accessibility. Instead of using screen readers, vision impaired site users can listen to a much more realistic voice. The plugin won’t have the normal slip-ups screen readers can have. Developers can even choose between different voices for different articles or types of article adding a variety.
This allows you to reach an audience you may not have previously been able to. You can ensure that everything you post not only can be listened to but also sounds good.
The plugin automatically reads whatever you add it to, so you don’t have to worry about changing content to make it work.
Along with the players at the top of the articles, developers can also choose to send their content to automatically upload on iTunes as a podcast. This is a great way to allow people to catch up on your work while they are driving a car or riding a bus. Plus, it takes no time on your part.
Having the ability to create an entirely new content channel without doing anything is extremely valuable. Not only does it give your fans a different way to consume your articles, it potentially opens you up to a new audience. You can set this feature up manually for specific articles, or have it go every time you post. Either way, you’re giving your work another way to be seen.
“People have different preferences for consuming content. Some may like to read a blog post, while others prefer to listen to a podcast as they multitasking or when they are on-the-go. By leveraging different types of media channels made possible by the Amazon Polly plugin and podcast, you open your site up to an entirely new audience,” Amazon said.
This plugin is a great step forward in accessibility. Having the ability to bring in an audience you haven’t been able to reach is a huge opportunity. Not only that, you’ll be able to make your website available to listeners on the go through iTunes.
Polly gives you the power to truly expand your reach in a quick and painless way.
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