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Web Accessibility

Despite Standards for Web accessibility, many Web pages remain difficult to use. In our current research, we are investigating a method of making Web pages accessible without requiring the use of assistive technologies. Through a standard browser, we provide the ability for users to access Web pages reformatted in a manner most usable by them.

The Web Adaptation Technology transforms the results of HTTP requests using a combination of both client and server technologies, taking advantage of the major strengths of each.  Key features of the technology are:

  • Dynamic manipulation of Web content so that content providers need not rewrite their web pages to make them available to a wide range of users.
  • To provide a unified approach to accessibility, users can apply transformations in combination to address users who have multiple limitations.
  • Personal preferences for page transformations can be applied by logging in to the project's server from any computer, providing for portability. No special devices are required.
  • An easy-to-use interface for setting preferences accommodates users new to computing.

One set of transformations is designed to address problems users might have with the visual presentation of pages. Certain changes such as font enlargement, font style, and inter-letter spacing, and color contrast can increase legibility. We supplement the text with speech output providing additional benefit for users who wish to have the text read aloud. Rearrangement of page layouts and banner text are options for users who prefer substantial text enlargement. Finally, images can be sharpened and/or magnified to varying degrees selected by the user.

We also provided adaptations targeting motor impairments. In addition to the input requirements of mouse pointing and clicking, some Web activities, such as e-mail, filling in forms or completing login and registration information, require the use of a keyboard. We provide users with to an easy way to set certain keyboard and mouse options to improve input. Additionally, their optimal configuration is further inferred from analysis of their typing.

Magnification of browser controls addresses both visual and motor difficulties with using the web.

We have been testing our software in partnership with several agencies serving Seniors or disabled users through the sponsorship of IBM's Corporate Community Relations. The software has been translated into eight languages and is now in use in a number of countries worldwide. For information about partner organizations, visit the Corporate Community Relations website.

 

Availability:

The Web Adaptation Technology has recently been made available as a commercial offering called WebAdapt2Me. For information about this offering, see:


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