Accessibility is crucial in modern computing and AssistiveWare used Apple's Paris show to announce new products to bridge the digital divide.

The company showed new versions of its KeyStrokes (3.2) on-screen keyboard, its SwitchXS 1.6 switch access solution and a completely new multilingual speech product, Proloquo 1.0. The products are expected to ship in October.

Proloquo 1.0 is a multilingual speech solution that works with Apple's built-in voices, but also with the high quality Acapela Multimedia voices (these currently include UK English, US English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Polish and Russian voices).

Proloquo is a multipurpose speech application providing a whole range of text to speech features that can be tailored to the user's individual needs:

It can read text from within a document; but will also echo text as its typed in.

It will also act as an advanced speech engine for SwitchXS and KeyStrokes, adding the capability to speak with high quality voices in various languages.

Finally, Proloquo can help people who cannot speak: they can type text into the application and let it speak for them, or define sets of custom words and phrases that can be spoken on request.

KeyStrokes 3.2 includes a new version of PolyPredix, a word prediction engine that reduces the amount of typing required between 10-45 per cent more than the previous version of the application. This version offers English, French, German, Italian and Norwegian localization, too. It costs 249 euros.

SwitchXS 1.6 provides virtually complete access to Mac OS X and all standard Mac applications for people who can only use one or more switches. It offers full mouse and keyboard emulation by means of a scanning mode. It costs 199 Euros.