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Re: SMIL text and audio

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charlesn@sunrise.srl.rmit.edu.au>
Date: Sat, 7 Mar 1998 00:49:29 +1100 (EST)
To: Al Gilman <asgilman@access.digex.net>
cc: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.SUN.3.91.980307003905.17867H-100000@sunrise.srl.rmit.edu.au>
People always have to settle for the level of technology they can afford. 
For many of us, that means buying the least we can possibly survive with 
- it is not about being physically disabled, but financially - if I can 
make do with what someone else throws away I will be able to use the web, 
if not I cannot afford it at all.

And speech does not help deaf people in the slightest. As audio 
technology improves, one part that improves is speech synthesis.

Australian deaf people, as I understand it, learn Auslan as their first 
language - the Australian sign language. It has a grammar and vocabulary 
different to english, which they learn as a second language. Since that 
is the first language tey are likely to encounter, they are already at a 
disadvantage. If it is sent around as audio, and the have to rely on a 
piece of equipment that they have no other use for to make the files go 
back to text, they are likely to be left further and further out.

In the world out there cost is a real factor. As Asia increas its online 
presece, it will be a bigger factor - currently Vietnam is said to have 
3000 computers, it got ISPs in December, and there are 70 million people 
there. The amount of money they have to invest in technology solutions 
for blind people, deaf people, or any other group is limited, and the 
cheapest option has to be shown to be functionally inferior before it can 
be rejected. That includes the case where one person can have the 'best' 
or lots of people can have something that works better than nothing.

(Sorry if I'm harping on - if so tell me to shut up)


Charles McCathieNevile
Sunrise Research Laboratory
RMIT University

On Thu, 5 Mar 1998, Al Gilman wrote:

> Charles McCN has given us an interesting post on the "business
> case."  What do others think?  I have just inserted my working
> draft of technology futures in the area Charles touches on.
> to follow up on what Charles McCathieNevile said:
> > As I understand it, it is currently a lot easier and more efficient to 
> > transmit text which is converted to audio than vice versa. The 
> > deaf-blind, and those of us who are stuck with text-only would probably 
> > really appreciate this sort of approach to the technology - speech 
> > recognition is possible, but is also expensive in terms of the hardware 
> > and software required by an ordinary person. It seems that text will 
> > always be ahead of it in price, and easier to transmit, with the work of 
> > conversion to audio done by client-side applications.
> AG::
> Text is cheaper to send but that cost is decreasing rapidly.
> Audio is much easier on the ear.  Synthetic speech is grueling to
> listen to for any length of time.
> > The point is that somebody watching a video is likely to have a 
> > sound-capable system. Somebody reading the text on an embossing printer, 
> > or small slow computer is more likely not to have access to the sound, 
> > let alone the additional system requirements to converty it to text.
> AG:: 
> It's cheaper today to set up for speech than Braille, and people
> are investing madly in the ability to bring that audio capability
> to market at lower and lower prices.  Audio access devices are
> the telephone and walkman; these are cheap.  It's the computer
> that is expensive, not the audio.
> Computers will catch up.  The disabled should not let themselves
> settle into a backwater of un-supported technology.
> Al Gilman
Received on Friday, 6 March 1998 09:06:59 UTC

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