I’ve just come across Scribd – a web-based repository, which allows anyone to upload their documents for free. I suppose it’s a bit like YouTube for documents, but the great thing about it is that you get several formats for the price of one.
All it needs is a document in a Word, PFD, text, PowerPoint, Excel, PostScript or LIT format, which it will then display in a web browser using Scribd’s custom Flash player (seems to be Macromedia’s FlashPaper format). The clever part is that Scribd will then automatically convert your document into a PDF, Word, and Text file – and MP3 format! The application obviously uses some sort of text-to-speech software, but the great thing about Scribd is that it automatically provides so many formats from just one upload.
The only drawback I’ve found so far is that I can’t seem to tab through to the links for the alternative versions, but the site was only launched last month, so perhaps they’ll fix that soon. Oh – and it only works in IE. It is available via Firefox and conversely, you can tab through to the download links but not actually see result inline. Typical! However, that aside, it’s a great idea – now all we need is something that automatically provide transcripts for podcasts, and something which will caption and describe videos. I’m not even going to mention actually producing accessible content – that’s for another day!