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Re: Ideas for accessible maps?

From: <peter.b.l.meijer@philips.com>
Date: Thu, 25 Nov 1999 14:20:24 +0100
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <0056890007068018000002L982*@MHS>
Out of curiosity as a sighted person, I just tried The 
vOICe sonification browser directly on the floor plan 
graphic referred to by Bruce and available as a JPEG
image at the image URL

   http://www.mdtechshowcase.com/images/floorplan.jpg

and indeed found that this complicated irregular map was
impossible to understand or navigate effectively via its
soundscape. That was to be expected, of course. Still, 
that said, it was funny to hear the huge amount of visual 
detail by first pressing function key F5 for inverse 
video (to switch to white lines on a black background), 
and then pressing Shift F4 for fourfold digital zoom, 
after which I could use the arrow keys to move in small
steps around the whole map. The exhibition border line
near the top left runs upward at a 45 degree angle, 
resulting in corresponding upward tone sweeps in the 
soundscapes, rather than the very brief noise bursts of 
vertical line segments and constant-pitch tones of 
horizontal line line segments that make up most of this
map.

Something else I played with was to audibly highlight the
blue route (blue line) that runs overlaid across this map 
image. Switching back to positive video again with toggle
F5, and then pressing Shift Alt b to hear out any blue
items, I could get a gross idea of the shape of this 
particular route along the booths. At the fourfold zoom
level, I could track the course of this blue route as 
it went up, right, up, left, up, left, down, left, down,
and finally left to one particular booth destination, or
so it seemed. Most probably not useful to you, for sure, 
but nice to play with. This color filter option filters 
out anything that is not blue. Similar filter options are
available for other basic colors.

If the map image had been suitably tagged with tiny 
spectrograms of booth names or ID's, it might have been
more accessible: you would have heard booth names or ID's
spoken on your left and right and at low and high pitch 
in the soundscapes as you move around the image with the
arrow keys. It would be a bit like navigating a virtual
space. As you would press the up arrow key, you would
then hear existing booth names or ID's go down in pitch 
while new booth names or ID's would pop into the view at 
a high pitch. Similarly, pressing left would make the name
or ID on the left move to the right, shifting whatever was
on the right out of the view, while a new name or ID would
slide into view on the left side. Gosh, I feel tempted to 
create an example of such a map one day, although I must 
admit that I have no particular interest in maps.

Note: apart from using the sonification browser, one can
also first download the image via other means, and then
use the file requester of The vOICe Learning Edition via 
Control O to import the image and hear its soundscape, 
zoom in, move around and so on.

Best wishes,

Peter Meijer


Soundscapes from The vOICe - Seeing with your Ears!
http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/Peter_Meijer/winvoice.htm
Received on Thursday, 25 November 1999 08:20:34 GMT

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