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Text Transcoder

Overview

The Text Transcoder provides users with a text-based version of the original web page that is created dynamically from the current web page. Formatting, visual layouts, images, and JavaScripting are removed during this "transcoding" process resulting in a page that provides a text-based view of the web page information.

This is a free service for all colleges within the California Community College system. California Community Colleges also have the option of customizing the "look" of their Transcoded Web page by including "annotations" for their specific college. Annotations can provide a major benefit to the overall functionality and usability of a transcoded Web page - more information about annotations is provided below.

For Developers

For developers, the Text Transcoder provides the unique ability to review a live web page and assess the potential accessibility of web page content (or website). Specifically, a web page creator can use the Transcoder to:

The Text Transcoder provides a text-based page that is similar to what a user would hear when using screen-reader technology. As such, one function of the Text Transcoder is to provide developers with a tool that can be utilized to gain a better idea as to how their web page content would be interpreted by assistive computer technology. The Text Transcoder can be used to assist Web content creators by identifying potential accessibility issues and to improve the accessibility, and usabililty, of the original web page.

The Text Transcoder does not replace "bad" HTML code on the website - that is a job for the webmaster. However, the Text Transcoder can provide an alternate method for interacting with the Web page information as well as potentially increasing the usability and functionality of the site.

Annotations

Another option if using the Text Transcoder is to incoporate "annotations" that transcode the Web page according to specific rules. These annotations (or rules) customize the accessibility and usability of the transcoded Web page. Without annotations, the Text Transcoder will provide only the text information from the original page. With annotations, however, the transcoded page can be customized to improve the functionality of the original page.

Customizations using annotations can include: altering the ALT-attributes of images, adding structural markup (H1, H2, etc.) to content, reformatting JavaScript navigation elements. Incorporating annotations can provide users with a unique method of interacting with Web page information. For examples and sites using annotations and the Text Transcoder, please visit:
http://www.usablenet.com/products_services/text_transcoder/annotations/index.html

 

For Web Page Visitors

For web page visitors, the Text Transcoder can provide an alternative to using the graphic-based website. This can be particularly useful if using a slower connection (e.g. dial-up access, etc.), if navigating web pages with alternate web-enabled devices (e.g., PDAs), or if the original site is not functional with assistive computer technology. Additionally, once a web page visitor has entered the "transcoded" web page view, any subsequent web pages selected will also be transformed into a text-based page.

For additional information about making web pages accessible, please visit the various resources at the main Web Accessibility page of the HTCTU website.

 

Using the Text Transcoder

To "transcode" a web page of your choice, you can set up a simple hyperlink that redirects the page through the Text Transcoder. Once a web page visitor is within the "transcoded" view of the web page, they will remain within that view until choosing the graphics-based view.

Evaluating a Web page

One use of the Text Transcoder is to evaluate the baseline accessibility of a Web page; specifically, how much information can be accessed if disabling layout tables, style sheets, and dynamic elements (see "For Developers" for more information). Performing a quality assessment review allows the Web page author to identify potential accessibility and usability errors. If you receive an error message, or the page cannot be Transcoded, you may need to to register the domain.

Perform a Quality Assessment

 

Hyperlink Creation

To enable your site to use the Transcoder, you can set up a hyperlink that specifies the Transcoder and the current page to be transcoded.

HTML Code snippet:

<a href = "http://homer.htctu.fhda.edu:8080/tt/http://www.domain_name.edu/page_name.html" >Text-Option</a>

Insert the appropriate domain and page names of your website in the second part of the URL.

The Text Transcoder will only parse domains that have been registered by the HTCTU. Once you have entered a registered domain, you may continue to browse anywhere on the Web and the results will be returned in a text only format.  Click on the following links to see examples of the Text Transcoder in action (pages will open in a new browser window).

The Text Transcoder requires port 8080 to be open at your campus (for outgoing requests). If you have questions or concerns, please at the High Tech Center Training Unit.