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Alternative information Web for visually impaired users in developing countries

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4 Author(s)
S. K. Agarwal ; IBM Research Division, Embassy Golf Links, Bangalore, India ; A. Kumar ; A. A. Nanavati ; N. Rajput

Websites in the World Wide Web are primarily meant for visual consumption. Accessibility tools such as screen readers that render the visual content in audio format enable the visually impaired to access information on websites. Despite standards that are available to make websites more amenable for screen reading software, not many website authors embed the required metadata information that feeds into such tools. Moreover, the wide variety of visual controls available makes it more difficult to interpret websites with screen readers. This problem of accessing information and services on the Web escalates even further for visually impaired users in developing regions, since they are either semiliterate or illiterate or cannot afford computers and high-end phones with screen-reading capability. In this paper, we present an alternative platform: the World Wide Telecom Web (WWTW), which can be used for delivering information and services to the visually impaired. WWTW is a network of VoiceSites that can be created and accessed by voice interaction over an ordinary phone. We present user studies that demonstrate that using applications on the Telecom Web does not require extensive training. The study leads us to believe that the Telecom Web can be the mainstream Web for blind users, particularly in developing countries.

Note: The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Incorporated is distributing this Article with permission of the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) who is the exclusive owner. The recipient of this Article may not assign, sublicense, lease, rent or otherwise transfer, reproduce, prepare derivative works, publicly display or perform, or distribute the Article.  

Published in:

IBM Journal of Research and Development  (Volume:54 ,  Issue: 6 )