aiBrowser for Multimedia --- Introducing Multimedia Content Accessibility for Visually Impaired Users

Multimedia content with Rich Internet Applications using Dynamic HTML (DHTML) and Adobe Flash
is now becoming popular in various websites. However, visually impaired users cannot deal
with such content due to audio interference with the speech from screen readers and
intricate structures strongly optimized for sighted users.

We have been developing an ``Accessibility Internet Browser for Multimedia'' (\aiBrowser)
to address these problems. The browser has two novel features: non-visual multimedia audio controls
and alternative user interfaces using external metadata.
First, by using the \aiBrowser, users can
directly control the audio from the embedded media with fixed shortcut keys. Therefore,
this allows blind users to increase or decrease the media volume, and pause or stop the media
to handle conflicts between the audio of the media and
the speech from the screen reader.
Second, the \aiBrowser{} can provide an
alternative simplified user interface suitable for screen readers by using
external metadata, which can even be applied to dynamic content such as DHTML and Flash.

In this paper, we discuss accessibility problems with multimedia content due to
streaming media and the dynamic changes in such content,
and explain how the \aiBrowser{} addresses these problems
by describing non-visual multimedia audio controls and
external metadata-based alternative user interfaces.

The evaluation of the \aiBrowser{} was conducted by comparing it to JAWS,
one of the most popular screen readers,
on three well known multimedia-content-intensive websites.
The evaluation showed that the \aiBrowser{} made the content that was
inaccessible with JAWS relatively accessible by using the multimedia
audio controls and alternative interfaces with metadata which included
alternative text, heading information, and so on. It also drastically
reduced the keystrokes for navigation with \aiBrowser{}, which implies to
improve the non-visual usability.

By: Hisashi Miyashita and Daisuke Sato and Hironobu Takagi and Chieko Asakawa

Published in: RT0740 in 2007

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