[access-uk] Fw: of interest?
- From: "ron sears" <r.sears1@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
- To: <access-uk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 7 Apr 2008 18:18:11 +0100
Have you seen this? Ron ----- Original Message ----- From: contessabassani@xxxxxxxxxxxx To: ron sears Sent: Monday, April 07, 2008 12:14 PM Subject: of interest? Hi again, Your emails have not been getting through. I thought you may find this of interest. love Ellen Deccan Herald, India Tuesday, December 04, 2007 Google's guide for visually impaired About a year ago, search giant Google introduced a new facility for persons with visual impairment who browse the web with the help of screen readers. Called "Google accessible search", this special search site, besides being accessible itself, returned results in the order of its accessibility, enabling users to easily click the link and read the results without difficulties. T V Raman, or Thiruvannamalai Venkatraman, the man responsible for this new feature, is a mathematician turned computer scientist. Being visually impaired, Raman did his initial education in IIT Mumbai with a focus on mathematics, like anyone aspiring to scale new heights in science, sailed to the US in the late 1980's to pursue higher studies in 'Cornell University'. After his Ph D in Mathematics (1994), his interest turned to computers and he is reputed for developing Emacspeak, a speech interface to the complete PC desktop including web and email access. After working with some of the best companies (like 'Xerox', 'Digital Equipment Corporation', 'Adobe Systems' and 'IBM Research'), Raman joined Google. The scientist spoke about his life and work to Deccan Herald's L Subramani through e-mail from Google's HQ in the US. Excerpt: Even today, despite technology advancement, several visually impaired persons find it difficult to pursue science/mathematics. How was it in your days? Yes, it was extremely difficult. Several schools rejected admission, but there were a few teachers who recognised my aptitude for the subject. Once they did, they encouraged me to pursue maths. Education apart, one of the most serious problem I found in our country is the overall social attitude towards persons with disability. This seems to be the case in my time (in the 1970's) and now too, despite technologies. This is what I find during my visits to India. Even if you were to say that technology has improved in the country, I would have still travelled to the US, given my background and the encouragement and support one get here to be innovative in India. That's not the same in India for persons with disability. You speak of higher studies in the US, which involves things like taking TOEFL and GRE. How did you manage them? I initially wrote to 'Education Testing Systems', who conduct GRE, and took the test with a writer. However, due to a miscommunication, there was a problem in taking TOEFL. I went to the USEFI in Mumbai and received a letter from them stating that I could speak English. These things may remain difficult in our country, as I mentioned, due to the social attitude and looking at disability as a limiting factor. You have said in your previous interviews that your penchant for innovation has made you more a computer scientist than a mathematician. Have you truly embraced computers or is it just a profession? Well, it's very difficult to say because my interest in computers and mathematics is related to one another. Having said that, I feel if a person once becomes a mathematician, he will remain so. Perhaps I feel this way because being a mathematician significantly influences the way I think about things. What kind of efforts is Google undertaking in the field of accessible search? 'Accessible Search' is an early Google Labs product designed to identify And prioritise search results that are more easily usable by blind and visually impaired users. Regular Google search helps you find a set of documents that is most relevant to your tasks. However, 'Accessible Search' goes one step further by helping you find the most accessible pages in that result set. In its current version, this product looks at a number of signals by examining the HTML markup found on a web page. It tends to favour pages that degrade gracefully --- pages with few visual distractions and pages that are likely to render well with images turned off. It is built on Google Co-op's technology, which improves search results based on specialised interests. 'Accessible Search' is a natural and important extension of Google's Overall mission to better organise the world's information and make it universally accessible. It is designed to help the visually impaired find the most relevant, useful and comprehensive information, as quickly as possible. What are the particular technology challenges you face in this project? In the past, visually impaired users have often waded through a lot of inaccessible websites and pages to find the required information. Our goal is to provide a more useful and accessible web search experience for the blind and visually impaired. This is a constant task that needs constant work.
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