WebbIE is a freeware web browser designed for screen reader users. It re-presents web pages as text with a caret, allowing users to use their existing screen reader or assistive technology to read it, but is not self-voicing, unlike (for example) Home Page Reader.
WebbIE was developed as a student project at the Department of Computation at UMIST. It was first released in 2002 and has been under development and release since. It is often bundled with the LookOUT screen reader and Thunder screen reader.
WebbIE uses the Microsoft WebBrowser ActiveX control to fetch and parse web pages into the W3C DOM and MSHTML DOM. It then iterates through the DOM creating a text representation. The implications of this include:
- There is a delay between the WebBrowser control rendering the web page for sighted people and presenting the DOM to WebbIE to process. WebbIE can only access the DOM when all images and other embedded content have been rendered, which for some slow or media-heavy sites can take time.
- The text representation is divorced from the underlying DOM, so realtime updates to the DOM (e.g. Ajax writes) may fail to be represented.