Short Description of the Research Project
The big growth of internet and specifically the world wide web (WWW) created an enormous information and knowledge resource. This enormous quantity of information and knowledge that substantially assembles the bigger percentage of human knowledge is useful for everyday human activities (eg information seeking, question answering, training, education, work e.t.c). Unfortunately, this enormous and very useful information resource is very difficult to be accessed by people with vision impairement (either partial or complete loss of sight). The last years many ideas have been proposed (eg dual interface design), initiatives have started (eg Web Accessibility Initiative, http://www.w3.org/WAI/) and research efforts led to useful tools (eg screen readers, text--speech, screen magnifiers, assistive browsers) for the solution of accessibility problem. This technologies aim mainly in accessibility problems when interacting generally with computers but not in the creation and use of educational web based systems.
The proposed research effort aims in studing this question in a more general frame of the accessibility problem in the world web for individuals with vision impairements. That is to say, it aims to deal more specifically with the ways of incorporation and specialisation of various technologies and methodologies to increase the accesibility particulary in web based educational systems. Particular focis will be given in the research, adaptation and extension of existing technologies and their effective application in environments of e-learning for vision impaired usres. The final objective of the researh effort is to develop and evaluate software that will allow the development of accessible web based aducational systems.Most of the running widespread web page authoring tools do not take seriously into account the need of accesibility. However, the research effort will try to solve this problem under the perspective of web based educational systems authoring by providing an appropriate set of tools.
The successful completion of proposed research work will profit:
- The community of vision impaired web users because it will increase considerably the accesibility in the world wide web generally and specifically in network places with educational aims
- Each teacher in any educational rank (first degree, secondary, third degree), because it will offer to them software tools that will facilitate the production of web sites for educational aims that will be addressed not only to sighted but to vision impaired users too.
- The more general objectives of social integration of vision impaired people as these objectives have been expressed in national and European level (eg access in the education, development of knowledge and possibility of entry in the job market).