[blindreplay] MultiMedia Tool for Audio/Video

  • From: <petrakigianos-giasou@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: blindreplay@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2007 03:59:08 -0700 (PDT)

IBM tool 'reads' Web video for blind
Story last modified Mon Mar 12 14:37:24 PDT 2007
IBM has made a tool for Web browsers that will help the blind
visually impaired access streaming multimedia on the Web.
The tool, which works with Microsoft's Internet Explorer or
Firefox Web browser, is designed to handle any file that is
in a Web site, including Adobe Flash or Windows Media files.
"Just because someone is blind, it doesn't mean they shouldn't
enjoying YouTube or MySpace or anything else like that," said
West, director of the Worldwide Accessibility Center for IBM.
The prevalence of audio on the Web seems like it would be an
addition for those with visual impairments, but it's not. Screen
readers and talking Web browsers were designed mainly for
text to voice and have yet to adjust function to fully support
multimedia, according to West.
When streaming audio or video requires users to click a Play
using their mouse, there is usually no keystroke alternative,
and the
controls are randomly placed on the screen, said West. If they
press Play, they can't experience the multimedia.
In cases where the audio or video streams automatically once a
loads, the Web page's audio often interferes with a user's audio
The multimedia browsing accessibility tool from IBM's Tokyo
Laboratory will provide predefined shortcut keys to control
multimedia on any given Web site. In addition to functions like
and Rewind, users can control the volume and replay speed.
The tool will also read metadata, if the video creator includes
that plays a screen narrative to describe what's going on in a
video. The function offers the same control as movies for the
visually impaired. A person can select to listen to the original
audio only or turn on the screen narration, according to West.
The tool, which IBM plans to make open source, will be showcased
next week's 2007 Technology & Persons with Disabilities
The company's strategy is that software for the visually or
impaired--populations who have historically been neglected in
of tech products--should be developed as a societal effort,
to West.
"I think that this is just one of many research innovations that
are going to see in this space...and not just for people with
disabilities. With aging baby boomers in the U.S. at about 76
million, who will have vision or hearing deterioration, we think
applications of the future need to take these users into
consideration," said West.
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