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media: Project to open internet to blind

From: david poehlman <david.poehlman@handsontechnologeyes.com>
Date: Thu, 21 Apr 2005 17:53:42 -0400
Message-ID: <009001c546bc$9719bed0$6501a8c0@DAVIDPC>
To: "wai-ig list" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

BBC NEWS
Project to open internet to blind
A three-year project to improve blind access to the internet has started at
Queen's
University in Belfast.
Researchers at the university are working to devise ways to guide the blind
and visually
impaired through the web, as part of the Enabled initiative.
The EU has provided 3.8m euro funding for the project which 13 other bodies
across
Europe are taking part in.
Professor Alan Marshall said blind people's groups would help them to carry
out trials
in Northern Ireland.
Mr Marshall said researchers from the Virtual Engineering Centre would be
joining
forces with the Sonic Arts Research Centre to work on the projects.
As well as schemes involving tactile display screens and audio cues, there
is also
the potential to use mobile devices as audio guides for the blind.
He said by embedding devices in public areas like shopping malls, they could
advertise
the position of shops when a blind person with an enabled personal data
device passed.
Mr Marshall said more people now were going blind later in life or through
disease
and this type of technology could help keep them out and about.
If the problem of inaccessibility is not solved, the discrepancy, known as
the digital
divide, will become bigger
Professor Alan Marshall
"When you are outside there is GPS (global positioning system) but this
doesn't work
inside," he said.
"If you had embedded devices they could advertise what the shop is, by
saying 'I'm
a butchers' through a mobile device."
He said that they could also act as maps to guide the blind through
unfamiliar buildings.
"The internet has a great impact on people's lives," Mr Marshall said.
"Through the web information can be accessed remotely; people can interact
with friends
and family; services such as online shopping, paying bills and distant
learning can
be provided to the public.
"However, people with blindness or other form of disability are not able to
take
full advantage due to the inaccessibility in the technology itself.
"If the problem of inaccessibility is not solved, the discrepancy, known as
the digital
divide, will become bigger as information technology advances," he said.
Trials will be carried out in Belfast in conjunction with the Blind Centre
for Northern
Ireland and the Royal National Institute of the Blind which will help
organise user
focus groups and training and evaluation sessions.
Queen's University is the project leader and is joined in the project by 13
other
universities and organisations across Europe, including BT and Siemens.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/4457793.stm
Published: 2005/04/19 05:48:39 GMT
 BBC MMV
Received on Thursday, 21 April 2005 21:53:51 GMT

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