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Re: Audio formats

From: Charles McCathieNevile <charles@sidar.org>
Date: Sun, 16 Feb 2003 15:01:35 +1100
Cc: "'Jonathan Chetwynd'" <j.chetwynd@btinternet.com>, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
To: "Webmaster@EDD" <web@edd.ca.gov>
Message-Id: <574B4866-4163-11D7-AFB3-000A95678F24@sidar.org>

Without doing a serious assessment of your particular project it is 
impossible to give an answer I am certain of.

But in general, recording the text as audio is a poor way of improving 
accessibility for people with visual impairments. Many will not get any 
benefit at all, many will get minimal benefit. If this is done at the 
expense of providing a good navigable structure (this can be done in 
recorded audio but is difficult, and for general accessibility must be 
available in a non-audio form), clear communication, or other important 
facets of accessibility, then you will be doing an overall disservice 
to people with visual impairments.

You also put yourself at risk of doing a very significant disservice if 
you rely on the recorded audio to convey any information, or if it is 
not absolutely accurate as a representation of your content. On the 
other hand you are likely to help people with significant intellectual 
disabilities, if you have high-quality recorded audio available as they 
browse the content.

Sites that do this include Mencap - http://www.mencap.org.uk - and 
Peepo - http://www.peepo.com These sites are not directed at people 
with visual impairment, but at people with intellectual disabilities.

Can you explain more about why your customers believe there is value in 
recorded audio? It may be that I am missing something particular to 
your case.



On Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003, at 03:26 Australia/Melbourne, Webmaster@EDD 

> I am wondering about the potential for what Chaals referred to as 
> "dubious
> benefit" to be gained by a deployment of textual content in a recorded 
> audio
> format.  I understand the benefit of real-time text-to-speech 
> conversion
> through the use of screen reader technology.  I believe content that is
> tagged correctly probably provides the overall best solution to the 
> problem
> of accessibility for visually impaired end-users, but my customers are
> asking for recorded audio.
> My customers believe there is value in providing recorded audio 
> versions of
> textual content.
> I would like to know whether or not recorded audio is something I 
> should be
> looking at as a viable way of improving accessibility of web content.
> I would like to know whether or not anyone is using recorded audio,
> especially with the goal of improving accessibility for visually 
> impaired
> end-users... and I'd like to hear how it went/is going.
> Thanks
> sb
>> Just using recorded audio and expecting people to listen to it is
>> probably of dubious benefit - it often interferes with people's speech
>> technology. Since people need their speech systems running to get as
>> far as your pages, they are more likely to turn off your audio than
>> theirs - so you would be doing a lot of expensive recording that your
>> stated target audience aren't going to appreciate at all.
>> Your advice on having decent structure seems to be more valuable in
>> this case. I would suggest there is little point just recording the
>> audio unless you have some expectation that the work will be done to
>> use it in a more advanced audio format provided (and of course
>> maintained) as an alternative version - a significant undertaking.
>> cheers
>> Chaals
>> On Saturday, Feb 8, 2003, at 05:39 Australia/Melbourne, Madeleine
>> Rothberg wrote:
>>> It sounds like you are considering producing audio books. You may be
>>> interested in the Digital Talking Book specification, which provides
>>> a way to mark up an audio book to have navigation within it. If the
>>> audio is combined with the full text of the book, then you have full
>>> text searching as well as audio playback.
>>> More info from DAISY at:
>>> http://www.daisy.org
>>> -Madeleine
>>> -- 
>>> Madeleine Rothberg
>>> The CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media
>>> madeleine_rothberg@wgbh.org
>>> http://ncam.wgbh.org
>>> (617) 300-2492
>>> On Friday, February 7, 2003 1:04 PM, Webmaster@EDD <web@edd.ca.gov>
>>> wrote:
>>>> My department is working on ways to increase accessibility of our 
>>>> web
>>>> content.  My advice has stressed the importance of document
>>>> formatting and
>>>> tagging that will ensure navigability/usability in conjunction with
>>>> screen
>>>> reader browsing software.  I never considered audio files to be a
>>>> particularly effective format for improving accessibility of content
>>>> for the
>>>> visually impaired user.
>>>> One program are would like to deploy audio versions of their
>>>> departmental
>>>> forms and manuals (some of which are 50+ pages in length), with the
>>>> rationale that visually impaired users can then "listen" to the
>>>> forms.  I
>>>> don't consider this to be an effective use of audio technology,
>>>> however I
>>>> have also never seen it used in that way.
>> --
>> Charles McCathieNevile           charles@sidar.org
>> Fundación SIDAR                       http://www.sidar.org
Charles McCathieNevile           charles@sidar.org
Fundación SIDAR                       http://www.sidar.org
Received on Saturday, 15 February 2003 23:01:44 UTC

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