The next step in accessibility – Announcing new partner

Feb 19, 2024 | News

We are proud to announce our new partnership with SIM Caribbean, marking a significant advancement in our commitment to accessibility. This collaboration has enabled us to introduce a groundbreaking feature on our website: a text-to-speech system that reads the content aloud, making our website more accessible to everyone.

Our journey with accessibility
Since celebrating our 5th anniversary in 2017, we have placed a strong emphasis on accessibility, recognizing it as a vital component of our vision for a future without limitations. This journey began with the launch of our Curaçao Inclusion Project, culminating in an award ceremony that recognized the most accessible hotel, restaurant, and employer in Curaçao.
Building upon this foundation, we published a comprehensive manual on improving accessibility, developed by a special committee of industry professionals. This manual was the result of an in-depth analysis of American and European standards, tailored to fit the unique needs of our island. Our efforts also included hosting a conference that covered various topics related to accessibility, marking the first time we addressed the concept of digital accessibility as an organization.

Now, five years later, we have become a living testament to our commitment by integrating digital accessibility features into our website, with the invaluable support of SIM Caribbean. This milestone not only reflects our ongoing dedication to making every aspect of our community accessible but also sets a new standard for inclusion in the digital realm.

A common Interest
SIM Caribbean is a company with more than 14 years of experience in aiding businesses through their digital transformation journey, offering a variety of digital solutions aimed at enhancing customer engagement, bolstering online presence, and improving overall company performance. We have had the privilege of including SIM Caribbean in our network from the outset, benefiting from their advice and various donations. Accessibility has always been a mutual interest in our collaboration.
Recently, SIM Caribbean has expanded its offerings to include a groundbreaking solution: a system capable of reading aloud the text on websites, known as Text-to-Speech (TTS). This innovative feature significantly enhances accessibility, particularly for individuals with visual impairments. The technology partner behind this solution is ReadSpeaker, further emphasizing SIM Caribbean’s commitment to making digital spaces more inclusive.

Text to Speech Solution (TTS)
ReadSpeaker is a global voice specialist, offering an extensive selection of languages and lifelike voices. Using its own industry-leading technology, the company provides some of the most natural-sounding synthesized voices available today. At the heart of its innovation is the use of next-generation Deep Neural Network (DNN) technology, which significantly enhances voice quality across all dimensions.
Operating as a subsidiary of the Memory Disk Division (MD) of HOYA Corporation, ReadSpeaker boasts a global presence with offices in 15 countries and serves over 10,000 customers across 65 countries. The company offers a comprehensive text-to-speech (TTS) solution, available both as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and in licensed formats.
ReadSpeaker empowers businesses and organizations to vocalize content for online platforms, embedded systems, servers, desktop applications, mobile apps, speech production projects, custom voice creation, and beyond. With over two decades of expertise, the ReadSpeaker team is at the forefront of text-to-speech technology, embodying their mission of “Pioneering Voice Technology.”

The transformative possibilities of digital accessibility
Through this collaboration, we’re excited to join forces in highlighting the potential of making digital information more accessible with TTS technology. This initiative showcases our shared commitment to enhancing digital accessibility across the region, where such advancements are still emerging. It’s a privilege for us to illustrate the transformative possibilities together.
As part of the implementation process, we had to involve our website provider, Kuki+Ko, who handled the technical aspects. We were also able to choose the voice we wanted to use to read aloud the text from our website. Additionally, there is a dedicated dashboard on the ReadSpeaker website, allowing merchants/users to log in and change the voice. All these features enhance the customer experience for the users.

The future
We believe this step adds significant value to our vision. Currently, the TTS (Text-To-Speech) system is only capable of reading and pronouncing English text. The next step in this advancement will be to understand the Papiamentu language and also to pronounce words in Papiamentu, thereby continuing to lower the barrier of communication.

We are very excited about this development. You can experience Sophie on our website  As you can see, there is a play button on the left side of your screen. This button activates the text-to-speech feature for this blog as well.