RNIB Release ‘Surf Right’ Toolbar

The RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People), in conjunction with The Paciello Group (pronounced ‘pass-ee-ello’, not ‘patchy yellow’ as I’d always assumed!), has announced a beta release of the Surf Right toolbar, an addition for Internet Explorer that reveals numerous settings that are tucked away in various options in the browser and places them right there, right in your face, big button style.

The Surf Right Toolbar is really for anyone who wants to adjust the way they view content on the web to make it easier to read. This could include people with mild disabilities, the elderly, people with reading problems, cognitive problems, using dial-up, photosensitivity and so on.

It will certainly find some receptive fans, although I’m still dubious whether someone who does not know where to change the settings in the browser as-is will be likely to download and install a toolbar like this (on the basis that if they don’t normally tinker with settings, they’re not likely to install this kind of thing) but I am happy to be proven wrong; besides, the RNIB are in an ideal position to promote a tool like this.

You can download the Surf Right toolbar here; more details about the toolbar on RNIB’s blog here.

Filed under: Tools
Posted by Ian on Monday, June 23, 2008


  1. I see some advantages compared to the famous NILS toolbar: the RNIB toolbar keeps settings active while you surf on the website you are testing. Once you deactivate the Flash, for instance, it remains unactive until you reactivate it.
    Another good point is the contrast tool, which is more powerfull, although I could not find the greyscale tool.
    For the rest, there are only few options compared to the powerful NILS toolbar, and the RNIB toolbar design is not very professional, which is quite surprising coming from RNIB experts.

    Added June 23, 2008 at 2:18 pm

  2. So says Mike Paciello

    Thanks for the headlines. One note — our company name is pronounced “pass - ee - ello”. ;-)

    Added June 23, 2008 at 8:01 pm

  3. So says Ian

    Mike, duly corrected! I would have put money on it that it was pronounced ‘patchy yellow’, thinking it was Italian origin? But then if anyone would know, that would be you ;-)

    You may have heard this one already - at @media 2008 on the ‘Hot Topics’ panel, Steve F was announced as working for ‘Yellow Patch’, before this was quickly corrected! ‘Pass-ee-ello’ was read as ‘Patchy Yellow’, was heard as ‘Patch Yellow’ and repeated as ‘Yello Patch’.

    You must have had as many mispronunciations as I have had mis-spellings of my surname!

    Added June 25, 2008 at 9:56 am

  4. So says Henny

    Thanks for your post Ian and comments.

    Lambrecht, you’re right in observing the similarity of the Surf Right Toolbar with the NILS Toolbar as both are created by the Web Accessibility Tools Consortium and Steve Faulkner of “Yello Patch”, I mean the “Pass - ee - ello Group”, also occasionally known as The Paciello Group…

    Anyway, the point is that at RNIB we wanted to build a tool not for the developer but the user. The toolbar is designed to give more ease, flexibility and customisation when reading web pages for people who may not know how to dip into the browser settings to change pages.

    As such I’d encourage developers and designers to stick to the NILS, now known as Web Accessibility Toolbar, when testing as the Surf Right toolbar is not intended for testing. The simple large buttons are also designed with the end user in mind who may be unfamiliar with using toolbars not to mention browsing.

    Anyway, we’re looking for feedback so keep us posted!

    Added June 25, 2008 at 8:55 pm

  5. So says steve faulkner

    You learn something new every day, I have always pronounced it with a “ch” sound rather than a “ss”.

    Added June 27, 2008 at 8:56 am

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