Reporter 448, 6 March 2000


University Develops First Talking Web Classroom

The Multimedia Environmental Education Group at the University of Leeds has just finished work on a prototype virtual classroom specifically designed to level the playing field for dyslexic and visually impaired students in higher education.

The ‘Talking Web Classroom’ is a structured web-based leaning environment through which students can access course materials, submit work and communicate with each other and with staff. Its pioneering advance over other web-based learning environments is the immediate availability of essential support facilities, including customisable colour settings and means of hearing all text spoken out loud, within an easy to use interface.

The Leeds team set out to develop a generic learning environment which was:

Comments such as "The combined text display and speech definitely enhances my concentration" and "The whole thing is very good and very easy to navigate" were typical of dyslexic students involved in trialling aspects of the system during development.

Production to date has been generously supported by a BT University Development Award. Owing to the amount of interest shown in the project to date, the team is now looking into options for taking it further, through sponsorship, industrial partners and collaboration with other developers interested in speech over the web.

For further information, contact: Project Director Sally Macgill (; or Mike Parry who is the lead software developer on this project (michael

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