Accessibility in Modern Multimedia

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15 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 9 μήνες)

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COVER PAGE



1

Table of Contents


Introduction

................................
................................
................................
................................
......

2

Modern Multimedia

................................
................................
................................
.........................

3

About multim
edia

................................
................................
................................
........................

3

Modern multimedia in our lives

................................
................................
................................
...

4

People with disabilities vs. modern multimedia

................................
................................
..........

5

Disabilities

................................
................................
................................
................................
........

7

Statistics

................................
................................
................................
................................
.......

7

Genesis

................................
................................
................................
................................
.........

8

Classification

................................
................................
................................
................................
.

9

Motor disabilities

................................
................................
................................
.....................

9

Cognitive
disabilities

................................
................................
................................
...............

10

Auditory disabilities

................................
................................
................................
................

11

Visual disabilities

................................
................................
................................
....................

11

Assistive Technologies and Techniques in Modern Multimedia

................................
....................

13

Computer accessibility

................................
................................
................................
...............

14

Web accessibility

................................
................................
................................
........................

19

Mobile accessibility

................................
................................
................................
....................

29

Conclusions

................................
................................
................................
................................
.....

38





2

Introduction





3

Modern
Multimedia


I can still remember myself as a
4
-
years
-
old boy sitti
ng beside my father on t
he
couch, watching
colorful slides being projected on the wall of our post
-
socialistic apartment

from a weird
,

black
device that smelled of melted plastic
. It must have been 199
0 or 1991 at that time



In 1989 wh
en the communism has officially ended in Poland
1
, my father started a business that
required him to travel to Germany every now and then.

On his frequent journeys he was always
shopping for the items that yet haven`t been available in my country.

Over tim
e he has
equipped our flat with some “cutting
-
edge” technology, still pretty rare in Eastern Europe

like:

color television, camera with build
-
in flashlight or
this, already mentioned, slide projector.

At
that time I couldn`t know how important time of my l
ive it was, as I was discovering the very
first and not yet
defined

multimedia

devices.


About
m
ultimedia

There are many definitions of mult
imedia that varies depending on the angle

and time

that they
are being viewed from.

Older of us may still remember

when multimedia meant using a

slide
-
tape program where

a beep sound signalized the display of a next 35 mm slide. Some others
may still remember 8
-
track tapes or flannel boards.

Gene
rall
y the term “multimedia”

derived from words “multi” and “media”. “Mult
i”

is Latin term
for “many”,” numerous” and “media” is the plural of

medium
” which is a neuter form of
“medius”



between

2
.

Medium

-

in my understanding

-

is a factor that passes
information

f
ro
m sender to receiver

in mass communication. The word “mult
i” refers to the multiple forms
of
content presentation

integrated together.

To
wrap

up we can simply define multimedia as a
number forms of media combined. An example of multimedia is a Chopin’s website that has text
regarding the composer, an audio file of some of his music and even a video of his music being
played in the concert hall.




1

Polish Round Table Agreement

-

(
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish_Round_Table_Agreement
)

2

Term
“m
ultimedia

-

(
http://en.wikipedi
a.org/wiki/Multimedia#Word_usage_and_context
)


4

For the sake of this paper it is essential to explain how we categorize multimedia. We may
broadly divide them into
linear

and
non
-
linear

categories
3
.



Linear content progresses without an input of the user. As an example of linear multimedia we
could se
t a movie. User experiences
a

cinematic presentation passively and he doesn`t have an
influence on what will happen on the screen.

Another example is radio broadcast that user
listens to but he can’t directly influence
it.

Non
-
linear multimedia


on the ot
her hand
-

offers some kind of navigation abilities. User can
control the flaw of
a

projection and his decisions may influence the general outcome of using
such multimedia.

Interaction

is the keyword in defining non
-
linear multimedia. The first and the
mos
t relevant example of non
-
linear multimedia is the
Internet

where users fully control
the
projection of content.

Along with internet we would have to mention smartphones, tablets,
video games and all other things that XXI century seems to be about
.
Explain

w
hat is modern
multimedia ?


Modern
m
ultimedia in our lives

Generally
,

media has been present in our lives since the very beginning
. Starting from paintings
made on

cave walls by our oldest
ancestors, documents written on papyrus in Roman Empire
through t
he first radio signal send over the English Channel in 1899 by
Guglielmo

Marconi to

television that was invented in 1929
-

media has always been there with us.

After a while, when
we discovered that multimedia doesn’t have to be linear

and we introduced in
teractivity to the
experience, multimedia has gone mainstream in our lives.




Today we are
much more sophisticated, with

bigger appetite for

intensive

experiences

where

fast motion,
sharp picture
, energy, textures,
clear

sounds, and richer co
ntent are
sti
mulating

our
senses.

As these technologies became more popular and advanced they have enabled content
-
creators to design and facilitate the presentation of information to new levels.

I
nteractive
multimedia
was

implemented in our daily lives
so it is a good

question to ask. Is there a value to
be found in using interactive multimedia technologies?






3

Categorization of multimedia


(
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multimedia#Categorization_of_multimedia
)


5

Yes

there is,

and here is why.
Modern multimedia are here
to
revolutionize the way we live our
lives, they are supposed to make our lives better and easier.

For

instance in businesses, these technologies are utilized to provide workers with means of
communication with colleges from other countries and time
-
zones.

Companies are investing in
software for video conferencing which, providing very high level of immers
ion, allow to conduct
negotiations across enterprises. They also purchase technologies that allow editing graphics,
sound and video remotely and in group. Distance is the factor that doesn`t affect businesses
anymore.

For our entertainment needs there is a

vast choice of services that will satisfy us. We have Video
on Demand technology that allows us to watch any
movie or TV show

at any time.

Live
streaming gives us the opportunity to watch sport events without a proper TV receiver. We can
listen to any mus
ic, everywhere and every time we want.

The use of multimedia technologies for home shopping, banking and financial transactions,
telephony, medical advice, restaurant or
hotel guides, has taken over
the

old habits and became
a commonplace for
almost

every
of us.

Generally, we can see that the use of multimedia technologies brought humanity closer by
making distance a non
-
issue. Unfortunately, among us the
re is a relatively small but significant
part of computing societ
y that can’
t fully benefit from moder
n multimedia through
some form
of
disability
.

People with disabilities vs. modern multimedia

Whereas modern multimedia became an inseparable aspect of our lives it may not be as easy
for
some

disabled to find their way in the world of digital information.
On the other hand there
is no doubt that internet is one of the best things that ever happened to people with disabilities.
For example, before the internet, how did blind people read the new
spapers? They mostly
didn’t. Audiotapes and braille prints were too expensive. At best, they could ask another person

6

to read it to them
4
. Right now
,

most of the newspapers publish their articles online

in the
format that is friendly for most of the “scree
n readers” available for blind. Similarly, people with
motor
dis
abilities were not able to pick
-
up the newspaper and flip the page. Right now they can
use one of the available assistive technologies adapted to one certain kind of disability.

Despite this g
reat potential offered by modern multimedia technology, in some ways these
possibilities are still greatly unrealized.

For instance, some websites are only possible to be navigated through with a mouse what
makes them difficult or impossible to be accessed

by people with motoric disabilities.
Also

only
a very small percentage of audio embedded

in

multimedia, where captioned for the Deaf. What
if web developers used graphics instead of text? How would then Blind accessed it? What if
content is only accessibl
e by mouse? What do people do if they can`t use the mouse?
How do
Blind peo
ple use tablets or smartphones?

REVISE

When you start asking this kind of questions you realize that there are many glitches in
accessibility of multimedia to people with disabiliti
es. The modern multimedia has a potential to
revolutionize disability access to information which I am going to evaluate in the next part of
this thesis.

I will use research to learn how disabled people consume possibilities provided by modern
multimedia

and I

will try to answer weather available multimedia are friendly for disabled users.

What kind of techniques can developers and content creators implement to their projects to
create eases of access for different disabilities?

Is it possible for people

with disabilities to
access multimedia via mobile devices? If not, is there any
thing we can invent to change that
?













4

Introduction t
o Web Accessibility

-

(
http://webaim.org/intro/
)


7

Disabilities

Statistics

It is estimated that there are over 600 million

people

with disabilities in the world with over
80%
of

them living in low
-
income countries
.


According to those numbers it is easy to calculate that
over 10
-
15
% of world’s population
suffers from some kind of disability.

If we take into account
families and care
-
takers we end
-
up with 800 million or 25% of pop
ulation affected
5
.

Among
these 600 million people almost half are blind or has severely low vision
. A
nother quarter
is

people with moderate or greater hearing loss.

Since my thesis is based around modern multimedia, which in most cases relies upon mobile
or
computer access to the internet, we are also interested in overall availability and usage.


Almost 24% of world population has an internet access which is around 1.5 billion people. This
number has raised 300% since 2000.

Disabled people use internet mu
ch less than people
without disabilities. Only 68% of people with internet access use it regularly whereas among
disabled people this number drops to 38%. Only 13% of people with vision problems use
computer compared to 70% of them which has never used one
6
.







5

Lorna Jean Edmond,
Disabled People and Development
, Asian Development Bank
, 2011 p.3

6

Disability S
tatistics (
http://raisingthefloor.org/about/statistics
)

0%
20%
40%
60%
80%
100%
Existance
Internet access
Regular internet usage
World population

People without disabilities
People with disabilities

8

Genesis

In every society there is a group of people that are not fully enabled physically or mentally.

These types of people are being referred to as “people with disabilities”. Disability is understood
as permanent or temporary decrement of effi
ciency in
psychophysical

body functions. It

may
be caused by many factors but we can mention: hereditary, congenital, injury or caused by bad
living standards.


In 1980 t
he World Health Organization

adopted and announced

the


International Classification
of Impairments, Disa
bilities and Handicaps” (ICIDH),
in
which the concept of disability was
defined as biological.
7

In the

process of becoming disabled this concept takes three dimensions.

Impairment
-


any loss or abnormality of psychological, physiologic
al or anatomical structure or
function
”.
In other words it is p
hysiological disorder or injury
.

Disability




a loss or abnormality of psychological, physiological, or anatomical structure or
function
”.

It is an inability to perform some certain movements
or receive some sensory
information

Handicap




a disadvantage for a given individual, resulting from impairment or a disability, that
limits or prevents the fulfillment of a role that is normal (depending on age, sex, and social and
culture factors) for
that individual

.

It is an inability to accomplish something that one may want
to do.
8




Th
ese

functional limitations are often the cause of social exclusion, discrimination and limited
opportunities.

Despite all the efforts to prevent disability the numb
er of disabled people is still
rising. Among the others, it is caused by; malnutrition, chronic conditions, war injuries and
environmental damage.






7

„Niepełnosprawność”


(
http://forestap.republika.pl/niepelnosprawnosc.htm
)

8

Two Co
ncepts of Disability and Handicap


(
http://www
-
csli.stanford.edu/~jperry/disabilities/batya/node2.html
)


9

Classification

Motor disabilities


Physically disabled people are the most visible group among all the disabled. It is caused by that
fact that their
impairment may affect the shape of their body parts or the way how they move.
Those

usually affect their ability to perform motor tasks like:

walking, running, moving objects,
tying shoes, handwriting etc. In order for the person to be considered motor disabled
,

his motor
abilities have to be much lower than what would be expected for his age, and problem must
affect daily living.

As one of the

most common motor disability cause we can mention spinal injuries. They are
usually the effect of motor vehicle accidents (44%), acts of violence (24%), falls (22%) and
accidents during sport activity (8%).

In most of the cases spinal injuries effect with

partial or full body paralysis.
Paralysis of
lower
body parts is called “paraplegia” and p
aralysis of the legs and arms is called

quadriplegia

.

People with paraplegia usually don`t have any significant difficulties accessing different type of
multimedia
. As they arms are still functional, they can easily use most of the mobile devices as
well as keyboard and mouse. Quadriplegia presents us with opposite situation. Pe
ople

with full
body paralysis

are not able to use standard input devices what makes it i
mpossible for them to
interact with interfaces in the
usual

way.

Another common type of motoric disability is los
t

or damage
d

limbs.

There may be many causes
for this kind of disability but accidents are the most common.


Here all the difficulties depend

on limbs that were affected. People without fully functional legs
usually don`t have any problems accessing multimedia devices and computers. On the other
hand, people with damaged or not functional
arms may

face the same problems as people with
quadriple
gia.
9











9

Types of

Motoric Disabilities


(
http://webaim.org/articles/motor/motordisabilities
)


10

Among causes for motoric disability we can

also find

various diseases and congenital conditions.
These are frequently caused by genetic disorders, degenerative diseases, nerve disorders or
central nervous system disorders.

In all

of those cases person is either partially or fully unable to
perform basic motor tasks which affects the ability to freely interact with different types of
multimedia.


Cognitive disabilities


Defining cognitive disability is not an easy task because
the subject is very broad and not always
well
-
defined. Generally, we can expect people with cognitive disability, to have problems with
different types of mental and analytical tasks.

Cognitive difficulties are mostly affecting man and
were

diagnosed in al
most 3% of general, human population
.
They

very often grow from
physiological or biological processes but can also be caused by accidents resulting in brain

damage.

We classify two main ty
pes of cognitive disabilities
: functional disability and clinical di
sability.
Clinical diagnosis can include: Down syndrome, Autism, Traumatic Brain Injury and Dementia
but may also include less serious conditions like: Dyslexia or Dyscalculia. Functional diagnosis
focuses or on the abilities and challenges that one is fac
ing.

Some of the main categories include
deficits or difficulties with: memory, problem
-
solving, attention, linguistic and verbal
comprehension and visual comprehension.

It is very hard to list exactly, what kind of problems, people with cognitive disabil
ities are facing

while accessing multimedia
. The subject is very broad and these kind
s

of disabilities
may have
various symptoms. Additionally nowadays,

multimedia are

so complicated, that users have to be
pretty intelligent and perceptive to utilize all t
he possibilities.

Generally, for now, we can presume that people with cognitive disabilities face problems with
logical understanding and responding to content.
10













10

Cognitive Disabilities


(
http://www.disabled
-
world.com/disabil
ity/types/cognitive/
)


11

Auditory disabilities


Any change in hearing capacity is being referred to
as “auditory disability”. Hearing impairment
is categorized by its intensity. We can mention:
moderate, severe, profound, or total

hearing
loss.

The causes for hearing impairments are usually biological but may also be a result of some
disease.

Very often, auditory disabilities are present from the birth what disrupts speech
development process
.

On the basic level, multimedia is very often an information presented by video or audio of some
kind.
If audio is not accessible in the communication, t
he user gets just parts of information
which affects the general experience. The same goes for speech. In modern multimedia voice is
sometimes the user`s input to the interaction. If user has problems with speaking that may
cause interaction to be difficul
t or impossible.
11

Visual
disabilities


As modern multimedia is very visual these days, people with visual disabilities are probably the
most
distressed

group of disabled. Additionally, the visual impairment is one of the most
common kinds of disability in the world.

It is estimated that more than a half of world’s
population is suffering from some kind of visual impairment.

This fact is easily noticeable

by the
high amount of people that were glasses in our surroundings.

The most common kind of v
isual impairment is low vision that is caused by aging, genetic
predispositions, injuries or illnesses. Bad eyesight is
usually
easy to correct due to scientist
and
inventors developing corrective lenses and medical procedures available for almost everybody.

However, there are some defects that are not possible to be corrected by glasses, among those
we have: macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy an
d cataract.
People with low
vision, usually doesn’t have problems accessing any multimedia for as long as they are using
their assistive technology in form of glasses or contact lances.




11

Auditory disabilities


(
http://webaim.org/articles/auditory/
)


12

The more drastic inflection of low
-
vision is blindness. It is usually

caused by the same factors as
regular bad eyesight but obviously with much bigger impact on one’s sight. This is not true that
blind people can`t see at all, actually most of them have some degree
of vision but is too low to
be useful. They can`t use thei
r eyes to access multimedia
,

what means that devices like
computer monitor and mouse are less useful to them. Blind are still capable of moving
and

clicking the mouse

but they don`t know where to move it since they can`t see the screen.

Color
-
blindness is
the most unique, and for some, the most fascinating visual disorder because
of its complexity. In definition, color
-
blindness is an inability or decreased ability to see or
distinguish colors.
There is no actual blindness in this; it’s more of a fault in d
evelopment. Color
-
blind are still capable of accessing various kinds of multimedia, however, they may have
difficulties

a
n

in

those kinds of multimedia where color

is the only method of covering
important information
.
























13

Assistive Technologies

and Techniques

in

Modern

Multimedia


T
he main
purpose

for this dissertation

was not only

to get you familiar with different types of
disabilities

but also

to show you

the
tools and techniques that can be used

by disabled

to
conquer difficulties

on the way to
full accessibility. A
s I

already presented

you with

the most
common impairments and difficulties that come along with them in relation to multimedia, let’s
investigate

the tools that provide eases of access for disabl
ed.

Those eases of access are often referred to as “
assistive technology
” (AT)

or “adaptive
technology”.

This term describes technologies used by people with disabilities to perform tasks
that would otherwise be difficult or impossible
12
.

Assistive technol
ogi
es can be found in many
aspects of our daily live. In architecture we have wider door frames that make it easier to pass
for the people on wheelchairs. In motoring we have special cockpit setup that allows driving
using just hands. There is also a wide
choice of devices for elderly people to help them moving
around

and performing basic tasks.



Assistive technologies are mostly connoted with mobility devices as wheelchairs and walkers
but they also include hardware, software and additional input devi
ces that assist disabled with
accessing information technologies and multimedia.

Modern multimedia can mostly be accessed via computer, internet or mobile devices. Keeping
this in mind I will present just the most relevant accessibility devices and techniq
ues. We will
start by getting familiar with how
disabled

people use computer
s, and then we will move on to
web accessibility and mobile devices
.

REVISE, lepsze wprowadzenie zrobic, zostawic ale
pozmieniac







12

What is assistive technology
?


(
http://www.washin
gton.edu/accessit/articles?109
)


14

Computer accessibility


Without
a

doubt, today, computer is the most popular device to access modern multimedia. It
wouldn`t be possible to tackle the topic of

multimedia

accessibility without understanding how
disabled people use their computers.
In order to structure the knowledge we ha
ve to, one more
time, distinguish impairment types into motor, visual, hearing and cognitive.

Motor impairments

From the physical point of view, using computer focuses around controlling it using mouse and
keyboard. As it was already mentioned in the prev
ious chapter, these input devices are not
suitable for people with

some

motor

impairment. Usually, adaptive technology for motor
disabled takes form of alternative keyboards and m
ouse
. There is a vast variety of devices on
the market that replace those
,

de
pending on what body parts are affected by disability.

Adaptive keyboards

-

are usually used by people with lesser muscle control that can`t rely on
their precision. We can find different kinds of those keyboards adapted to different kinds of
diseases

and

impairments. One example could be the keyboard with lower

and bigger

keys that
allows person to slide finger to the correct key.

In some cases, adaptive keyboards come with
specialized word
-
competition software that speeds up writing process.

Mouth and he
ad wands


very simple tools that are to supplement user`s hands in human
-
computer interaction. They come in a form of plastic or rubber stick that is either attached to
the head or being held in mouth. Someone with no use of hands could use it to type or
control
trackball.

Eye
-
tracking



is a very powerful tool for fully or partially paralyzed people. Special piece of
hardware mounted on user’s head, keeps track of his pupil and replicates its movement on the
computer screen what supplements the mouse. This hardware also comes with specia
l software
that helps person to write and perform other activities. These systems
are

one of the most
expensive assistive
technologies,

available on the market

what makes them also less common
among disabled.





15


Single
-
switch devices



are also de
dicated for people
with very limited mobility. They are used
mostly to control very specialized software. For example typing is done by program
,

sliding
alphabet letters slowly through the screen, when user presses

the

switc
h button,

alphabet stops
and cho
ses desired letter. They come in a form of big buttons that can be pressed either by
hand or other body part. Another variation of single
-
switch device is “sip

&

puff switch” which
reacts on user rapidly inhaling or exhaling the air.
13

Visual impairments




As it

was already mentioned earlier
,

today

computer and multimedia are very visual what makes
it even harder for visually impaired to use them.
If somebody suffers from low
-
vision, it is easy
it overcome sight problems using glasses or contact lances prescribed by a doctor. On the other
hand, if we imagine that we are blind and we can’t make use of screen and mouse, using
computer gets completely
new sense.

As it was with motor disabilities, visually impaired people replace standard input

and output

devices with specialized assistive technologies in form of additional peripherals and software.

Screen
-
readers


offer one, of not many, ways to info
rm blind user what is on the screen. They
come in a form of complicated piece of software that runs alongside with operating system.

The
way how screen
-
reader works is pretty straight forward. When typical sighted person looks at
the screen, he focuses the

sight on a bit of screen that is the most relevant at the moment.
Screen
-
readers work very similar. Using his keyboard, blind user chooses the most important
piece of the screen and text
-
to
-
speech synthesizer
reads out the content. They come in many
versi
ons depending on what kind of visual disability user is suffering from. For example people
with limited sight usually use screen readers that magnify the content instead of reading it
aloud.

Blind and low
-
sighted people do use the standard keyboards

the sa
me way as the others do.
Veteran computer users
k
now that it is not necessary to look at the keyboard while typing.




13

„How do disabled people use computers?”


(
http://joeclark.org/book/sashay/serialization/Chapter03.html
)


16

For the matter of

fact, good typist don`t do that at all. It defiantly tak
es time to learn the
keyboard lay
-
out but it also pays off
on the end.

Braille displays

-

are another way to receive information by the blind user.
Reading

content
using your hands rather than eyes may seem impossible but blind people do it every day. Braille
display or “Braille terminal” is a piece of hardware co
nnected to the computer that displays
information in form of Braille text. Once connected to the computer, terminal fetches the
information from the screen, translates it into Braille language and displays on the little metal
board.
To create metal dots, t
ypical for Braille language, the device uses metal or nylon pins that
pop
-
out from the board creating typical inequalities on the surface.

They are
also used by blind
and deaf people who can rely on the as the main source to receive information read from t
he
screen.
14

Voice recognition software


is not only a great tool for blind people but also for people with
motion disabilities that have problems using mouse or typing on keyboard.
Using this kind of
software is one of the easiest ways to engage in
interaction with a computer
. User can control

what happens on the screen using voice commands. There is a high variety of this kind of
software available on the market but it also comes as a part of Windows Vista and Windows 7
.
15

My 30 minutes with
voice
-
re
cognition software

For the sake of research, I decided to give it a try and use speech
-
recognition software built
-
in in
my Windows 7 for a short period of time.

Setting it up is very easy. The system welcomes us with a little wizard

that helps

to adjust a

few
parameters of our work environment. We have to choose what kind of microphone
we are

using and what kind of environment are we in. Next, system asks
u
s to say the following
sentence:
“Peter dictates to his computer. He prefers it to typing and particu
larly prefers it to
pen and paper. ”

. This way, system inspects the way how we pronounce some certain syllables
and sounds and makes all necessary adjustment.




14

Accessibility Consulting
-

(
http://www.evengrounds.com/blog/how
-
do
-
blind
-
people
-
use
-
the
-
computer
)

15

S
p
eech recognition
-

(
http://en.wikip
edia.org/wiki/Speech_recognition
)


17

After setting

it

up, you activate voice recognition system by the command: “start listening”.
T
here are many predefined commands that are making the interaction a pure pleasure
on the

beginning. You can say “play music” to activate your

favorite music player or “check e
-
mail” to
switch on Outlook Express and check e
-
mail box. For all the others, not

defined actions
,

you
start by saying “show numbers” what triggers

the

system to assign a unique number to every
control and icon on the screen, you interact by pronounc
ing the number specific to the

item
that you want to use.

After 30 minutes with speech
-
recognition I can say that this is definitely the way to go for
paralyzed people that can`t interact with their computer using mouse and key board. The
interaction is much slower

but it is still quite comfortable. The biggest draw
-
back of this system
is de
finitely the lack of sound feedback after providing a command what could make it less
comfortable for blind people.



Auditory impairments

Of our all five sense
s
, hearing is probably the one that we enjoy the most with all the music and
energetic voice conversations. Fortunately for deaf or less severely hearing impaired people,
interaction with computer and multimedia is not a big problem. They can easy utilize m
ost of
the possibilities of their computers without using any advance hardware or software.

The problem emerges when we start talking about accessing multimedia through a computer

or
other devices.

As we know multimedia is combination of many different me
dia in one. Most
frequently, sound represents one of those media and if the user can`t hear it, he loses on the
experience.

In order to supplement missing information, speech in audio can be captioned.

Captioning is something that most well
-
hearing people
are used to, mostly because of foreign
movies that we watch with subtitles in the cinema or at home. Captions for deaf slightly differ
from standard subtitles because they include
the description of different sounds and additional
commentaries.
16





16

Captioning


(
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Closed_captioning
)


18

Cognitiv
e impairments




As it was mentioned in the previous chapte
r, defining cognitive disabilities

is not an easy task
because of the amount and the variety of ailments that were describe
d

in this topic.
Handicap
person may have difficulties solving basic men
tal task so the ability to access computer relies
upon the intensity of those difficulties.


The support for people with cognitive disabilities can be provided mostly by content creators
rather than hardware engineers. As we
k
now, handicap people usually have difficulties with
math, problem
-
solving, attention, reading and everything that requires logical thinking.
Unfortunately we can`t help them by inventing any new assistive technology in form of
peripheral device and all acc
essibility centers on the content.

As an example we can set a person with significant memory problems. General concept of
memory includes: immediate
-
memory, short
-
term
-
memory and long
-
term
-
memory working
together. Some people have problems with one of tho
se three types of memory what affects
their ability to navigate around very built
-
up interfaces

because they keep forgetting how they
got to the content. The solution for this would be to create very simplified interfaces that have
all of their functions a
vailable

from main menu.

Another example would be the person with visual comprehension problems. Difficulties with
processing visual information are opposite to problems with verbal communication and reading.
People with visual comprehension disabilities have difficulties recogniz
ing object for what they
are. They can see that there is a graphical object on the screen but they can`t describe it.
Analogically, building content for this kind of person would require replacing all of the graphical
elements with text descriptions or pro
viding an audio
-
video presentation.
17






17

Cognitive disabilities


(
http://webaim.org/articles/cognitive/
)


19

Web accessibility

Web, nowadays, is one of the most commonly used channels for accessing multimedia and
people can hardly conceive living without it.
It provides access to news, shopping, email,
entertainm
ent and many

more for 24 hours,

7 days a week. The UN Convention on the Rights of
Persons with Disabilities describes access to information and communication technologies
(including Web) as basic human right.
Therefore, lack of accessibility in websites representing
u
niversities and other public institutions can be interpreted as violation of the international
law.
18

In order to make it easier for all of the developers, W3C came up with “Web Accessibility
Initiative”
which

gathers develop strategies, guidelines and reso
urces to make the Web
accessible to people with disabilities. Version 2.0 of these guidelines, published in 2008, has
been the basis of most accessibility law in the world. It is based on four main principles

referred
to as “POUR”.

Perceivable



the conten
t has to be available to the senses either through the browser
or some assistive technology.

Operable


the user has to be able to navigate the content either through mouse and
keyboard or some assistive technology.

Understandable



content has to be clear

and understandable
.

Robust



a wide range of technologies should be able to access the content
.
19


As we can conclude from above principles, accessibility guidelines concentrate
also

around

supporting other assistive technologies in our projects.
Reassuming the above principles,

one of
the most important aims of Web accessibility is to adjust the content to be accessible via both;
normal interaction and interaction supported by supplementary input devices and techniques.







18

W3C WAI


(
http://www.w3.org/standards/webdesign/accessibility
)

19

Laws and Standards


(
http:/
/webaim.org/intro/#intro
)


20

Text Web Browsers

Befor
e we s
tart elaborating on all the HTML and application accessibility techniques, it is very
important to present one of the most important kinds of tool used by blind and low sighted
people


text web browser.


Text web browsers, differ

from

standard brows
er
s

in the way of interpretation of
HTML
documents.
Standard web browser parses HTML code and all included scripts in order to display
graphics, animation and interactive elements to provide positive visual experience. Because of
the fact that blind

and lo
w sighted

people doesn`t

benefit

from

visuals, text web browsers
display website as

plain

text

with some navigation abilities.

The text is then being read aloud by

accompanying
screen
-
reader

giving the user opportunity to understand the content of
a

webpag
e.
20


In text web browsers, all graphical elements and all links are being replaced and described with
text what makes it readable for the screen
-
reader. In order for the webpage to be p
roperly
displayed by text browser, it has to be created following a few accessibility rules that I will get
you familiar with in the next part of this chapter.

My few minutes with “Thunder Screen Reader” and “WebbIE


In order to get a better understanding

of how this software works, I downloaded
“Thunder
Screen Reader” which is free to download and to use. It comes along with “WebbIE”
-

text web
browser that enables blind people to browse internet.

I switched off my screen and closed my eyes before i start
ed using Webb
IE
. The first difficulty
that I faced was using my keyboard blindfolded. I haven`t expected that after so many years of
using computer i will still have problems finding the right buttons to use shortcuts. Another
problem was the usage of brow
sers interface. I took me some time to skip from browsers menu
to the actual webpage.





20

Thunder Screen Reader


(
http://www.screenreader.net/index.php?pageid=1
)


21

I noticed that Webb
IE

is equipped with a couple of features supporting its comfortable usage.
One of them is the ability to recognize different links and forms elements
. Browser can
recognize and describe different input fields, buttons and anchor tags. The other one is the
sound which indicates every new element that we select on the webpage. The tone of the
sound changes according to the position of the element in rela
tion to the
top
element on the
page. This feature helps user
s

to define
their position on the webpage.

Using WebbIE was very

interesting

but also a bit frustrating

experience.

I took me a good deal of
time to learn how to nav
igate through the content of

we
bpages. There is probably a long
learning curve involved in perceiving the content the way blind do what was probably the
reason for my frustration.
Generally, this experience has asserted me in how hard it is to be
visually impaired and how extremely impo
rtant it is to
make the content accessible for disabled.


Web
Accessibility Techniques

“Hypertext Markup Language” (HTML) is absolutely the most commonly used, content
presentation language in the internet. Along with HTML, the other
leading
format is “Cascading
Style Sheet” (CSS) which is responsible for
styling the content presented by HTML. Because of
the fact
,

that this is the content that we want to make accessible and not visuals, most of the
accessibility techniques focus on creating
co
rrectly

formatted HTML
markup and separation
between content layer and presentation layer.


Another important

thing is lo
gical and clear
distribution of

content throughout the page

that is achieved by correct usage of all available
formatting tags.


Semant
ic Structure

For

every

text

document that we

create, we apply some kind of visual logic that defines where
document starts and ends or which information is more important than the other. We do it by
using very well
-
known semantic elements like headings, pa
ragraphs, bullet lists etc.

For
instance, whiteout proper semantics it would be difficult to figure out what is the title of the
document or it would be very uncomfortable to read. The same applies f
or content presented
on the web, especially if the conten
t is meant to be accessible for disabled users.


22

Whereas in simple Word document you define visual logic

by using various formatting tools
provided by software, in HTML document you do it by

applying proper HTML markup
.

Screen
reader or other assistive tec
hnology users have the ability to navigate
our

website by structure
defined
in HTML code
.

This means that user can read or jump to various elements on our
webpage using his keyboard or other assistive input device.

H
eadings are created using (
<h
x
>
)

tag

where “x” stands for number from 1 to 6. Pages should
be structured in hierarchal manner where 1
st

degree tags are the most important (
<h1>
) and
they are followed by lower degree tags (
<h2>, <h3>

).


This way we create navigable outline
of the document

li
ke on the example below.

1.

<h1>
Headline 1
<
/
h1>

2.

<h1>
Headline 2
<
/
h1>

2.1.

<h2
>
Headline 3
<
/
h2>

2.2.

<h2
>
Headline 4
<
/
h2>

2.2.1.

<h3
>
Headline 5
<
/
h3>

2.3.

<h2
>
Headli
ne 6
<
/
h2>

3.

<h1>
Headline 7
<
/
h1>

Another, very important semantic element is paragraph represented by (
<p>
) tag. This
element
is also navigable in text

web

browsers what means that user can switch between paragraphs
that are in focus, using keyboard or assistive device. This paragraph is either read aloud or
magnified depending on the disability that user is suffering fro
m.
The proper usage is presented
on the example below

1.

<h1>
Headline 1
</h1>

<p>Content of the paragraph 1</p>

<p>Content of the paragraph 2</p>

1.1.

<
h2
>
Headline
2
</h2>

<p>Content of the paragraph
3
</p>

2.

<h1>
Headline
3
</h1>

<p>Content of the paragraph
4
</p>



23

The
last but not less important semantic element
s

that we have to remember about
are
list
s
.

HTML lists are very commonly used to create menus or to simply point out some facts on the
webpage. We have three kinds of lists in HTML: ordered list (
<ol>
), unordered

list (
<ul>
)

and
definition lists (
<dl>
)
. Ordered list usually
re
presents sequence or progression
whereas
unordered list should be used when there is no sequence or ordered importance. Definition list
are used exclusively for presenting structure or
definition. List item is defined by tag (
<li>
)
nested within (
<ol>
),

(
<ul>
) or (
<dl>
)

tag

like in the following example.
21


<ul>

<li>
Item 1
</li>

<li>
Item 2
</li>

<li>
Item 3
</li>

</ul>


Images

Images and animations are very important part of the web these
days. They enhance user’s
v
isual experience or present

information. Some people wrongly assume that graphics are bad
for accessibility. This logic has derived from the needs of people with only one type of disability
:
blindness.

Very often we forget that
people without a sight are not the only disabled people on
the internet.

For the matter of fact,

properly composed
graphics can be a great improvement for our
webpage accessibility. For example
;

they can be useful for people with different types of
learn
ing, reading and cognitive impairments as many concepts are better to be
understood

using image.
Most of the computer programs use icons instead of text in menu bars because
image can communicate some information much faster and effectively than text.

It i
s hard to come up with some unified rules about how to choose proper images for our
webpages to improve or maintain accessibility.

In some cases implementing one accessibility
enchantment can disqualify the other.




21

Semantic Structure
-

(
http://webaim.org/techniques/semanticstructure/
)


24

For instance, if we design for color
-
blin
d we don`t want color to convey the meaning of the
picture. On the other hand, if we put black and white image it may be difficult to understand by
people with learning or cognitive disabilities
.

We have to look for compromises while creating

web pages whi
ch are very rich with graphics and illustrations.

In extreme situations we will be
forced

to create another version of the
page

that is suitable for people with other kinds of
disabilities.

Generally, the most

important is
;

logical arrangement of illustrations around the
page so that they supplement

written content instead of confusing our reader.

The tag responsible for graphics and illustrations in HTML is (
<img>
)
.

We use it within our code
to point

in which place

image
should be rendered. (
<img>
) tag has some compulsory attributes
that have to be used in order for the picture to be displayed. One of them is “src” which defines
a path to the

graphic

file and the other one is “alt” which is crucial in order to make our pic
tures
accessible for blind people.


The value of “alt” attribute stores alternative text for an image. As we have learned, blind
people use screen
-
readers and refreshable Braille devices to access the web. If assistive
technology device come
s

across

an

(
<i
mg>
) tag with “alt” attribute, it reads alternat
ive text
describing the picture
,

helping blind user to understand its meaning.
Alternative text

should
very accurately describ
e the

purpose

of an image

in within the content. The number of
cha
racters that we
can place in

“alt” attribute is limited but we can replace it with “longdesc”
tag that will be parsed in the same way as “alt”.





<img src=”img/queen.jpg”
alt=”Picture of Queen Margrethe”

/>



25

The lack of alternative text for graphics and images on the
web is one of the biggest problems of
accessibility these days.

If there is no “alt” attribute in (
<img>
) tag
,

it

can result in one of two
behaviors
. The image would be either completely omitted like it wasn`t there or screen
-
reader
could find another text

associated with the image (like filename) and read it instead.
22

23

Hyperlinks

Hyperlinks are one of the most basic elements

of HTML; therefore making them accessible

is
one of

the most important aspects

of

webpage accessibility
. Hyperlinks are

the w
ay to
navigate
between

pages in websites
, so without them

it

would not be possible to browse internet.

Most
of available assistive technologies and browsers support hypertext therefore it is not difficult to
ensure accessibi
lity of

links

in our website
.



M
ost

a
ssistive technologies in form of software, rely more on keyboard that a mouse when it
comes to input devices. Therefore
,

the key aspect in hyperlink accessibility is to make sure we
can access all links via keyboard.
The TAB key allows user to select links
, and the ENTER key
interacts with it.
Of course, keyboard is very often replac
ed by other input devices but

role of
keys remains the same.

As for the blind user’s accessibility, we have to make sure that link descriptions are sufficiently
descriptive s
o that they know where they lead. This rule applies also for people with cognitive
and learning impairments that may also have problems understanding wrongly formulated links.

In HTML we use (
<a>
) tag to place

link
s
.

<
a

href=http://www.google.com>Google
Search Engine</
a
>

In space in between (<a>) tags we place

an

object that describes the link. It can be either text
-

like in

above example


or an image.
It is not allowed to nest Flash, Silverlight or Java object in
(<a>) tag. That can result in validatio
n errors but

it

is also highly discouraged in terms of
accessibility, because screen
-
readers and other assistive software can`t interact with this kind of
elements.




22

Alt Attribute


(
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alt_attribute
)

23

Creating Accessible Images
-

(
http://www.doit.wisc.edu/accessibility/online
-
course/standards/images.htm
)


26

Again, it is very important,
when nesting images ins
ide links, to provide

proper link des
cription
in “alt” attribute of an image. It is recommended to be very verbatim when creating description
so that link makes sense out of context.

V
ery common mistake

is to title them for instance “click
here” which doesn`t provide any information.
We need
to use more descriptive like: “Click here
to read about our company!”
24

<a href=

http://www.google.com
/about”
><img src=”
aboutButton
.jpg”
alt=”

Click here to read about our company!

/
></a>

Forms

Forms play very important role in modern multimedia these
days, because they provide the way
to interact with

various business

services

via websites or mobile devices. As the web grows, we
use it for more and more practical purposes like shopping, online banking, paying bills, booking
travels

etc. Fully functiona
l people do all those things through the internet because it saves
them time. Disabled people benefit from it much more, mostly because they can take care of
many aspects of their lives without support of other people what decreases their dependency.

In or
der for disabled people to be able to utilize the possibilities provided by forms we have to
make them accessible.

One of the most common ways to navigate through forms is by using TAB key.
By p
ressing TAB

key

user

advances

to the next filed in the form, ENTER key submits the form.
This way of
navigating is also very popular aro
und people with no disabilities and it is supported in every
available browser on the market.
It is easy to make forms inaccessible using JavaScript o
r Flash
which don`t have built
-
in keyboard navigation support
-

it has to be exclusively programmed.



Next important rule in creating accessible forms is to make them

logically arranged so they can
be easy

understood and

navigated with keyboard.
We have t
o make sure that form input fields
are close to their labels and that corresponding fields are grouped.

If the form was
unorganized
,
users using screen
-
readers or users with some cognitive
impairment

would have problems
navigating them. In extreme
cases th
ey would not be able to use them at all.




24

Accessible Hyperlinks


(
http://barrierbreak.com/accessible_hyperlinks.php
)


27

In HTML we have a couple of tags that greatly support our efforts in making forms accessible.
Main tag that defines form is (
<form>
). All

labels and input fields

have to be nested inside so
that a script can gather
information from input fields

and submit them correctly. Next is
(
<input />
)

that represents input field and (
<label>
) which defines label of field.
Here is
the example of properly formatted HTML presenting two input fields (some irrelevant

tag

attributes were omitted).

<
form
>

<
label

for=”_name”>Name:</
label
>

<
input

id=”_name” type=”text” size=32 />


<
label

for=”_surname”>Sur
n
ame:</
label
>

<
inpu
t

id=”_surname” type=”text” size=32 />

</
form
>



We usually arrange fields on the page using (
<table>
)

structure but this method is not
recommended

anymore

because of validation and compatibility

with latest browsers
. Right
now, it is recommended to style them using

Cascading Style sheet appended in HTML
document.

Labels have to be close to their correspo
nding input fields so that users can easily notice
collocation.

If our form has a lot of fields, we can improve accessibility by using the
(
<fieldset>
) element. Every (
<fieldset>
) element should have a (
<legend>
) tag that
describes
grouped elements. For ex
ample, if in our form we ask for personal information and
computer configuration, we can divide those fields into two separate (
<fieldset>
) elements.
This is a great practice to help blind users

to use

their screen
-
readers but also supports people
with rea
ding and learning disabilities.

Next code snippet presents the example of properly
implemented form grouped with (
<fieldset>
) element.
25




25

Accessible Forms


(
http://www.jimthatcher.com/webcourse8.htm
)


28


<
form
>

<
fieldset
>

<
legend
>Personal information</
legend
>

<
label

for=”_name”
>Name:</
label
>

<
input

id=”_name” type=”text” size=”30”/>



</
fieldset
>

<
fieldset
>

<
legend
>
Computer configuration
</
legend
>

<
label

for=”_os”>Operating system:</
label
>

<
input

id=”_os” type=”text” size=”30”/>



</
fieldset
>

</
form
>


Skip
-
links

One of the problems with today’s
websites is that; usually the main content is not the first thing
on the webpage. Often, there are some other things that are on the top, like header bars with a
lot of functions and navigation bars. Users using keyboards or screen
-
readers are forced to go

through all of those links before they get to the main content. Sometimes there can be over 40
links that we have to listen to (screen
-
reader users) before they reach an article.

The
answer to
this problem is

“skip
-
links”

method which is generally very si
mple but very efficient.

The idea is;

we place
the

link on a pa
ge that when pressed, skips through

all links
straight to

main article. This link is usually positioned on the very top of the page and is created using
simple (
<a>
) tag that points at the anchor tag that is placed right before the article. The anchor
tag can be place inside heading of the article.

<h1>
<a name=”article”

id=”article”
>
Title of the article
<h1>


29

Mobile accessibility

After mobile phones were introduced fo
r personal use in the
80’
, nobody have expected that
they would have had become taken as much for granted as electricity or personal computing.
Most of us really don`t remember how
it was before mobile phones were popular. After they
were released on the m
arket they were treated like some exclusive form of telephony because
of the high price and freedom that they offered.


Around
twenty

year
s

later
,
mobile

phone
s are

important and

inseparable aspect of our pop
culture

and daily lives. Cellphones ha
ve

made long
-
distance communication very easy what
revolutionized the way we love, live and work.
They

evolved from being simple, wireless
communication medium to
minicomputer that is our video camera,

music player, video player,

game console, mailing system
, source of information and
generally, the device that allows us to
access modern multimedia remotely.
26

People with disabilities may need cell
-
phone even more than fully functional people.

With their
impairments, cell
-
phone can serve as additional assistiv
e technology in their lives that makes
simple communication tasks easier.

With this fast medium of communication they can quickly
request help or they can be checked on by their relatives and

care
-
takers so it also increases

general

safety.

As new generati
on of mobile
-
phones was launched, everything was thought to be changed for
the disabled. Smartphones introduced new ways of interaction which haven`t seem to be very
accessible. Without physical buttons it seems to be very difficult for some disabled to us
e basic
functions of mobile phones.


Today`s mobile devices
offer

completely new experience in accessing modern multimedia, but
how does it influence peopl
e with disabilities? Are disabled people
going to
become
marginalized users
for smartphones? Before I

answer the

foregoing questions I will

breathily
explain how

disabled people use

p
revious
-
generation cell
phones.




26

The History of Eri
csson


(
http://www.ericssonhistory.com/templates/Ericsson/Article.aspx?id=2106&ArticleID=1923&CatID=375&epslangu
age=EN
)


30

Cellphones for people with disabilities

As it was for every kind of device,
the choice upon which simplified cellphone is the right one,
depends on the kind of disability

that person is suffering from
.
For people with mobility

or sight

impairments, there are devices that are voice controlled. Just like for Windows Speech
Recognition they can talk to their phones dictating them who to call t
o or which task to perform.
In older devices, all voice commands had to be pre
-
recorded in newer devices system can
literally recognize speech. This solution is also great for blind or low
-
sighted people that find it
uncomfo
rtable to use standard key
-
pad a
nd they can`t see the interface.

Devices with speech re
cognition usually implement

screen reader
s which

work

in exactly

same

way

as the ones used
in
personal computer
s
.

They are

capable of re
ading interface items or text
messages. For low
-
sighted people th
at doesn`t need screen reader
s
, there are screen magnifiers
that magnify the elements that are in focus.

T
hey usually implement

big
buttons and action
-
response system that gives
them

verbal feedback after every task that
they

perform.
This kind
of phone c
an be used for elderly people or the ones with cog
nitive or learning impairments.
27

Very important
feature that is usually implemented in cell
-
phones for disabled is quick
emergency system. There are many variations of such system. Some are capable of makin
g
emergency calls triggered by voice command, for instance “help”. The others have built
-
in
intercom system that allows calling for help to relatives or care
-
takers in less serious situations.

As you might have already noticed, most of
assistive solutions

implemented
in

cellphones for
disabled are very similar to the ones used in personal computers.

The similarities are present
because we communicate with both of those devices in the similar way. We have keypad that
represents computer keyboard and screen
represents computer monitor.

In many cases

cellphones implement many assistive features at once. The reason for this are the producers
that don`t want to build separate devices for every kind of impairment so they build versatile
cellphones that they brand

as devices for disabled.
28







27

Telefon Dla S
eniorów


(
http://www.internetowo.net.pl/telefon
-
komorkowy
-
dla
-
starszych
-
osob
)

28

Disabled Cellphone Features


(
http://www.i
nformationweek.com/news/206801051
)


31

Are smartphones
useful

for
people with disabilities?

Before we start elaborating whether smartphones are useful for people with disabilities we
should define what exactly the smartphone is.

Wikipedia defines
it as:



(…)

high
-
end mobile phone built on mobile computing platform, with more
advanced computing ability and connectivity that contemporary featured
phone

(…)

.

29

In my own words, I would define it as a mixture between regular cellphone and Personal Digital
Assista
nt (PDA). Increased computing

capabilities allow

them to run special mobile operating
systems like: Android
, iOS,
Windows Phone 7

or Symbian. Operating systems provide
possibility
to utilize most of possibilities provided by modern multimedia. On smartphon
es we can browse
the internet,
listen to

music, watch movies, play games,

make photos, record video, make video
calls and use millions of custom made apps.

The truth is that there are some sorts of disabilities
that make, using some of those functions

very

hard or impossible
. Among those, the most
distressed group
is

blind people.

Most

smartphones these days feature touch
-
screen which provides better interaction for

fully
functioning

users. In thanks to button
-
less

devices, developers can create applications with very
unique interfaces that support multi
-
touch gestures and display big amount of information at
once. The biggest
drawback of touch
-
screens is lack of tactile response while interacting with an
interface.

In regular cellphones, blind users could sense where the buttons are by touching the
front of their device whereas in smartphones it is not possible. Some people take it as a
complete disqualification of smartphones as devices for blind
,

but they could
n`t

be more wrong.

Apart from touch
-
screens
,

smartphones feature a lot of other advanced hardware pieces like:
GPS, gyroscope, accelerometer or compass.

Additionally most of them have built in text
-
to
-
speech synthesizer and voice recognition software.
This ha
rdware

and software

can be

extremely

useful for creating assistive solutions for disabled.




29

Smartphone


(
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smartphone
)


32

So far, there are not many

smartphone

applications available for
disabled

people but companies
and private developers are slowly starting to realize that there is

a need for that as well.

The
first giant to come to conclusion, that smartphones could help
disabled

to move around and
handle their business is Google. In 2010 they have implemented a set of accessibility features to
their Android 2.1

Éclair

. The most

important were: Text To Speech API for developers and an
improved keyboard layout

that made it easier to type and communicate with the phone. Also in
Android 2.3 “Gingerbread”, Google introduced three new applications for disabled that provide
auditory, s
poken and hectic feedback to performed actions. There are called “SoundBack”,
“KickBack” and “TalkBack” and are available through settings in every Android device.

The above examples were mos
tly the applications that make

phone accessible for people with
d
isabilities
but there are also apps that can make the surrounding
s

more accessible for disabled.

As an example we can give iPhone application called “ColorIdentifier” that is intended for blind
and low
-
sighted people. The application uses built
-
in iPhone c
amera to identify colors of objects
that camera lance is pointed at. “ColorIdentifier” can distinguish 16 million different colors and
uses text
-
to
-
speech API to “tell” colors to the user. Some names of colors are very surrealistic
like “atomic orange” or
“hippie green”, this make
feedback more descriptive and helps user to
imagine the color.
30

Another application that is worth mentioning is “Ariadne GPS” which is the application designed
specifically for blind and visually impaired people. “Ariadne

GPS
” use
s General Positioning
System to determine user’s location and gives him clues about his surroundings. For example,
while walking, when user is getting closer to the edge of pavement


application vibrates to
warn him that he is off the course.

Application
is equipped with something that developers have
called “talking maps”. They allow
exploring

surrounding
s

by moving finger around the map. The
application can “talk” in multiple languages and it works everywhere where Google Maps is
available.
31









30

Niewidomy VS. iPhone


(
ht
tp://dostepny.net/2010/niewidomy
-
kontra
-
iphone/#more
-
437
)

31

Ariadne GPS


(
http://itunes.apple.com/dk/app/id441063072?affId=1777045
)


33

Windows Phone 7
-

Interface for Blind

Inspired by information gathered during research about accessibility, I decided to give it a try
and develop prototype

smartphone

interface for blind and visually impaired people. As I have
some interest and experienc
e

in mobile

development within Microsoft technologies, I chose to
do create it for Windows Phone 7.


Windows Phone 7
it’s a relatively new mobile operating system designed by
Microsoft to compete with Android and iOS. WP7 has been around since
November 201
0 and it

is estimated to

own 12
% of global market share

in
2012
.
Very significant aspect of

this mobile platform is it`s interface called

Metro UI
” which is the newest invention of Microsoft regarding interface
design and usability. Metro UI is now being
implemented to many of
Microsoft services, some examples include: XBOX 360 and Windows 8
Developers Preview.

Very characteristic elements of Metro UI are tales and hubs. Tale it is a modern form of icon
that is capable of displaying additional information.

For example; message tale displays the
amount of missed calls, and calendar tale displays upcoming events. Hubs


on the other hand
-

are concentrators for certain kind of information. For example peoples hub stores all our
contacts from Facebook, LinkedI
n, Google Contacts and Hotmail Contacts, and message hub
stores are SMS messages, Facebook messages and tweets.

It is all working very well and I enjoyed using new Microsoft`s Metro user interface for the last
half a year. Unfortunately
, new interface
relies strongly on visual experience; therefore it may
be very difficult to create eases of access for visually impaired people. I searched the whole
phone and I found only “speech for phone accessibility” function that doesn`t differ from
standard voice c
ontrol. Because of that I decided to create a very simple interface that would
allow blind people to perform basic task on their Windows Phone 7 device. These functions are:
calling, texting, browsing internet and checking mailbox.



34

The I
nterface

In my opi
nion, the technology is so advanced these days that we are able to develop assistive
devices and software for almost every kind of disability. Nowadays, the question should be: not
whether we are able to create some ease of access but how can we create it
to be practical and
fun to use. As people with no disabilities like to please themselves using fancy, colorful and
modern interfaces; people with disabilities are also human beings that like to be pleased.

Therefore, I decided to create prototype of the in
terface that is not only useful but also gives
user an alternative to what is available on the market.

The idea is that this interface should replace the typical home screen in Windows Phone 7 and
should give user instant access to four basic functions of
his smartphone: making calls, texting,
browsing internet and checking mailbox. He navigates using a mixture of wrist gestures and
voice commands. Tilting the phone to the left activates calling function, to the right activates
SMS, forward switches on brow
ser and backwards opens e
-
mail client. He confirms his choice
using big button on the middle of the screen.



35

The
Concept

The main purpose of my prototype is to demonstrate the alternative way of navigation that`s
why I haven`t developed all

of

the functi
ons. In my project you can switch between different
functions but you can`t use them


they exist only as a concept.

As for making calls, user would be asked to say the name of person he wants to call and
application would dial the number for him. Text
messaging and writing e
-
mails would be
completely voice controlled as well. Browsing the internet would b
e very similar to how blind
people do it on personal computers. There would be a text web browser installed on the device
that would parse webpages in
text form. Screen
-
reader implemented in the application would
read webpage to the user. He would be able to control the flow of reading by tilting the phone
forwards or backwards.

The Prototype





The prototype was built using Microsoft Visual
Studio 2010 and Windows Phone SDK 7.1 on
Windows 7 personal computer. Visual interface was created using XAML and all of the
functionalities were programmed in Visual C#. Application uses built
-
in accelerometer API to
detect its position in relation to the

ground.

Code starts with implementation of all necessary classes that will be used in the project. Three
last classes implement gyroscope functionality and audio
-
playing capabilities for verbal
feedback provided in the application.

using

System;

using

S
ystem.Collections.Generic;

using

System.Linq;

using

System.Net;

using

System.Windows;

using

System.Windows.Controls;

using

System.Windows.Documents;

using

System.Windows.Input;

using

System.Windows.Media;

using

System.Windows.Media.Animation;

using

System.Windows.Shapes;

using

Microsoft.Phone.Controls;

using

Microsoft.Devices.Sensors;

using

Microsoft.Xna.Framework;

using

Microsoft.Xna.Framework.Audio


36

Next we declare accelerometer object and create Boolean objects that will store information
whether t
he device was tilted or not.

Accelerometer

_ac;

bool

isLeft =
false
;

bool

isRight =
false
;

bool

isTop =
false
;

bool

isDown =
false
;


Now we instantiate accelerometer object and create event handler that will detect if the phone
changes its position. If the

phone position has changed, event handler will trigger

_ac_ReadingChanged
” method.

public

MainPage()

{


InitializeComponent();


_ac =
new

Accelerometer
();


ac.ReadingChanged +=


new

EventHandler
<
AccelerometerReadingEventArgs
>(_ac_Read
ingChanged);

}


Processing pitch and roll of the device can`t be performed alongside with detecting
its

position
in the space, that’s why we have to use dispatcher object

to

process the tilt.

void

_ac_ReadingChanged(
object

sender,
AccelerometerReadingEventArgs

e)

{


Deployment
.Current.Dispatcher.BeginInvoke(() => ProcessTilt(e));

}


“ProcessTilt” function is responsible for reacting when

the

device changes its position and
calculating

pitch and roll


which are

the amount of tilt

expressed in degrees
. In order to
calculate pitch and roll we ha
ve to image the phone suspended in three dimensional axes (x, y,
and z
). We use
:


(









)


to
calculate pitch and
:


(









)

to
calculate roll
where Ax, Ay, Az represent

x, y, z values

and result is expressed in radians.




37

The first lines of “ProcessTilt” method start with calculating pitch and roll

of the device

using the
foregoing equations.

double

pitch =
Math
.Round(RadianToDegree((
Math
.Atan(e
.X /
Math
.Sqrt(
Math
.Pow(e.Y, 2) +
Math
.Pow(e.Z, 2))))));

double

roll =
Math
.Round(RadianToDegree((
Math
.Atan(e.Y /
Math
.Sqrt(
Math
.Pow(e.X, 2) +
Math
.Pow(e.Z, 2))))));


As you can see I have created “RadianToDegree” function that
converts

radians into degrees. I
am not used to operate
with

radians so I did it to get a better understanding of phone`s position
while testing.

private

double

RadianToDegree(
double

radian)

{


return

radian * (180.0 /
Math
.PI);

}


Next part of “ProcessTilt”

it
’s a very big conditional statement that re
sponds to every position
change.
If the device is tilted more than 20 degrees, function accepts

this fact as

the position

change

and call
s

appropriate functions.

The snippet below is analogically repeated three times
more for every side of the phone.

if

(pitch <
-
20)

{


if

(pitch <
-
20 && !isLeft)


{


listBox1.Items.Add(
"left"
);


buttonGo.Click +=
new

RoutedEventHandler
(buttonGo_ClickLeft);


using

(
var

stream =
TitleContainer
.OpenStream(
@"sounds/makeacall.wav"
))


{


var

effect =
SoundEffect
.FromStream(stream);


FrameworkDispatcher
.Update();


effect.Play();


}


}


isLeft =
true
;

}

else

{


isLeft =
false
;

}






38

Conclusions