Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mozekty: The Talking Internet Radio Database

I have lots of friends who ask me for accessible websites to find good links to internet radio stations. I usually send them to http://www.billsparks.org because Bill is visually impaired and understands how to create an online database of station listings that is screen reader friendly. Bill does a great job at keeping his website updated, but there's only so much one guy can do.

Sometimes, you just want to try something new. Why can't there be a database of stations that is being checked by a handfull of people to insure that they are online and why can't that database be screen reader friendly? I was asking myself this question one day and did a Google search for internet radio database. The results weren't good. What I found were programs that were not accessible and tons of online resources that hadn't been updated in years.

Well, I kept searching and eventually came to the InfraDrive Mozekty page. The description of the program said that "Mozekty is a free fast tool to play your audio streams and radio stations, you can also get a list of the latest radio stations on the internet and save your favourite stations. Features include:

  • Listen to hundreds of internet radio stations from around the world with this full-featured player.
  • Add, edit or delete stations from your stations database.
  • Check for latest stations found on the internet by connecting to Bitsnips.com.
  • Get full info and statistics about the current playing stream.
  • Full control from Mozekty system tray icon when the application is minimized.
  • Friendly user interface.
  • Great tool with a small size."

I knew this was the program I was looking for. I went to the InfraDrive Download Page and got a copy of Mozekty.

The program worked great but had one problem with JAWS. As I tabbed through the various options, I noticed that JAWS wouldn't read the actual list of stations. This was an obvious problem. How was I going to know what station I had selected?

I sent an email to support@infradrive.com and got an immediate email and Skype call from Ehab El-agizy. As we chatted, I discovered that this guy was really interested in my issue. He wanted to make this program accessible for blind and visually impaired users and to continue to offer it for free. We talked about JAWS and Window Eyes and how they read the screen to people who are blind or visually impaired. He downloaded a demo of each program and decided that the best way to bring accessibility to this program was to write his own Text to Speech interface.

As you can imagine, I was floored. How many people do you know would take this kind of interest in making a program accessible? Well, a few days later, he was sending me the first beta. It worked well and I could use my default SAPI voice to access most of the program's menus and combo boxes.

This was outstanding. A few days later the second beta arived. Now the entire program spoke and additional speech support was added. Now, I could choose any SAPI 4 or SAPI 5 voice and make it the default voice for the program. I could now access the program just as easily as any person with vision. I was so impressed by the work done that I promised to spread the word to as many blind and visually impaired people as possible. You are reading the result of that promise.

If you are interested in internet radio, I'd like for you to give this program a download. If you know of good internet radio stations, please submit them so we can add them to the database for all to enjoy. The current version does not support streams by RealMedia because of their perprietary nature. This may be fixed in future releases. Ehab wants our feedback and has a forum for us to post suggestions and new internet radio listings. You can also send new listings to support@infradrive.com. He did the programming and I did the testing. We made a great team and I hope we can continue to work together on the program's development. So, what are you waiting for? Click this direct link to download Mozekty.

NOTE: You will need to download the Microsoft .net framework before you can use this program. Click this link to download the Microsoft .net Framework from the Microsoft website.

If you have any questions about the program's speech output, feel free to contact me at FredsHead@aph.org.

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