Headlines: May 12th, 2004

The Department of Culture Media and Sport is giving people access to its website through the telephone. The pilot project allows callers to dial 0845 333 0850 at local rate charges and gain voice access to the content of the DCMS website. The trial is being closely watched by other Government departments and agencies. If it is successful it will be a major step in bridging the divide between those who have computers and access to the Internet and those who don’t. It will be particularly helpful to the blind and partially sighted, around 90 per cent of whom do not have computers.Callers who want to use the service have to spend a few minutes getting to grips with the system. Each key on the telephone keypad has a function. For example ‘5’ selects a link. When callers are ready to move on to the home page they hear a voice describing what is on the page. There is a brief description of each link and if that link is required, pressing’5′ will result in a description of the new page. Although navigation is much slower than viewing a screen and clicking on the required link, developing a skill in using the telephone keypad will reduce navigation time. The technology is provided by PhoneAnything – http://www.phoneanything.com .

The website, www.culture.gov.uk , recorded 160,000 visits last month and it includes details of the new Licensing Act, the National Lottery, sports issues including the London Olympic Bid for 2012, job vacancies and a number of other topics.