The state of Delaware is using VoiceML to provide rural residents with access to state serices via telephone. This service was needed because access to the Internet is not widely available in some areas of the state. Much of the state’s aging population resides in non-metropolitan areas and these residents (many over the age of 70) do not own nor have access to a computer. The project, dubbed Access Delaware, provides citizens with a voice-based interface to some of the state’s web-based services.
Similar to the “write it once, use it often” refrain of those use a single source publishing strategy in the technical communication industry, VoiceML developers can build automated voice services using exactly the same technology—and the same content—they use to create web sites, thus, reducing significantly the cost of developing additional ways for people to access the content they need, when and how then need it. While HTML assumes the user will interact with content through a web browser (with the help of a computer monitor, keyboard, and mouse), VoiceXML provides acess to the same content through a telephone via Interactive Voice Response (verbal commands) or telephone key pad entry.
Services currently available through Access Delaware include: voting poll locatation identification, health emergency information, tax filing status, and, quite ironically, information about where citizens without a computer can get online for free (assuming they know how to use a computer). Additional services are being added.