TextHELP Launches Talking Website Technology in US

Highly innovative software that makes websites talk will be launched by TextHELP of Antrim during its participation in an Invest Northern Ireland delegation to a major technology exhibition in the US.

TextHELP, one of six Northern Ireland technology companies attending the FOSE show for US Government and federal bodies from 5-7 April, will be using the exhibition to launch ‘Browsealoud’. The software adds speech to websites and has been designed for those with literacy and learning difficulties, as well for those who do not have English as their first language.

The other members of the Northern Ireland delegation at FOSE, are:

Andor Technology, Core Systems, Datactics, Finisco, Fusion Antibodies, all from Belfast.

Alan Hingston, Invest NI’s Trade director, says: “FOSE is the biggest IT show in the world for public procurement bodies. It is now regarded as the show that starts the annual purchasing process for over 25,000 buyers in the US Government, its agencies and state bodies. Over $30 billion is expected to be spent by these organisations on IT during 2005.

“FOSE is, therefore, an ideal platform for Northern Ireland technology companies to make contact with buyers and to demonstrate their products and expertise. They will also be able to draw on the extensive market knowledge and database of contacts of the experienced team at the Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington,” he adds.

Mark McCusker, TextHELP’s managing director, says attendance at FOSE will enable the company to reach key IT professionals, especially those responsible for e-government programmes, across the broadest range of public bodies in North America.

“We’ll be starting a major marketing campaign in North America for ‘Browsealoud’ at FOSE.  Test marketing of the product over the past few months has produced extremely favourable feedback and initial sales to important bodies such as the US Veterans’ Administration and the City of New Orleans.

“Browsealoud is essentially a further extension of our expertise in developing software for those with learning and literacy problems that make result from conditions such as dyslexia or a mild visual impairment.  ICT use is now acknowledged as the third basic life skill after literacy and numeracy.

“Browsealoud widens access to electronic text and the internet. Our research has indicated a very substantial market opportunity. Around 40 million Americans are believed to have literacy problems; 8.3 million have a mild visual impairment and around 40 million of US residents age five and older speak a language other than English at home.

“Our product has a number of unique features that increase access, including a simple download facility.  Our test marketing has shown that it is an extremely effective way to ensure greater access for all to digital technology,” he adds.

To drive business in North America, TextHELP has recruited an experienced sales team there and developed a targeted marketing strategy. The company is also using Invest NI’s Northern Ireland Technology and Development Centre in Boston as its US headquarters.