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This paper describes a complete approach to the segmentation and extraction of text from Web images for subsequent recognition, to ultimately achieve both effective indexing and presentation by non-visual means (e.g., audio). The method described here (the first in the authors' systematic approach to exploit human colour perception) enables the extraction of text in complex situations such as in the presence of varying colour (characters and background). More precisely, in addition to using structural features, the segmentation follows a split-and-merge strategy based on the hue-lightness-saturation (HLS) representation of colour as a first approximation of an anthropocentric expression of the differences in chromaticity and lightness. Character-like components are then extracted as forming textlines in a number of orientations and along curves.