Web 2.0 application: Readability

Todd Vandenbark

Eccles Health Sciences Library is constantly looking for ways to improve accessibility for the web sites and resources we provide. According to the American Foundation for the Blind, more than “25 million Americans report experiencing significant vision loss.” The most popular screen reader software applications such as JAWS are expensive for individuals and institutions to purchase, and are usually written for Windows-based computers. Most personal computers come with built-in setting adjustments to enlarge on-screen font sizes. As web pages increase in complexity, they become increasingly difficult to read. For Mac users with visual challenges this can be frustrating to the point of inaccessibility.

Enter the “bookmarklet” Web 2.0 application Readability from Arc90 Lab. A “bookmarklet” is a small application that you can install in your web browser to use on an as-need basis. Reviewed in the January 2010 issue of Macworld, Readability

“is a bookmarklet-based browser tool that reformats a Web page and presents the page’s text content in a plain, easy-to-read format. Inspired by Instapaper, the save-it-for-later-reading Web service, Readability lets you make almost any page more readable with a single click—or even a keyboard shortcut.”

Written for the Safari and Firefox browsers, users drag the free Readability button to their bookmark toolbar to install it. Clicking on the button from any web page removes the clutter around the content and presents text in a clean, easy-to-read format. While it occasionally misidentifies words and images as not part of article content, Readability is another free tool that individuals and libraries can use to make online content more accessible.