Accessibility means that anyone can access computerized devices and information without problems.
In the Accessibility Research group at IBM Research - Tokyo, we focus on users who cannot access computers and information by using standard interfaces. We have been working on systems for the visually disabled for twenty years. More recently, we have started studying how we can build on our experience and create various types of fundamental technologies at IBM Research - Tokyo for a wide range of users such as other kinds of disabled people and senior citizens.
Social Accessibility Project
Beyond developer participation, user participation is also necessary to improve the actual usability of webpages for diverse users. This project is initially focused on a new Web service using a kind of social network, which can allow disabled users and volunteers to collaborate to improve the accessibility of webpages without changing the original content. The "Social Accessibility Project", a Web service for visually impaired people and volunteers is already available.
Accessibility Internet Browser for Multimedia (aiBrowser)
The use of multimedia content has risen dramatically in the last few years, but people with limited or no vision have not been able to enjoy the benefits of these advances. Screen-reading software and self-talking browsers cannot handle multimedia applications, which are designed for intuitive visual use. The new aiBrowser offers people with visual impairments the same multimedia control features sighted people see and operate with a mouse and new function to make Web content accessible by providing configuration files.
The uses of the Internet, including the Web, are proliferating and more and more social activities are supported and even conducted online. In this environment, the "digital divide," the difficulty in using information technologies experienced by some users, such as visually impaired people and senior citizens seems likely to become a major social problem. For Web designers, one of the most effective ways to create accessible webpages is to experiences the difficulties faced by those users. However, it is not easy for non-disabled Web designers to have such experience even if they use assistive technology software. Therefore, we developed aDesigner, a disability simulator for Web designers to have such experiences at authoring time. It also automatically detects accessibility and usability problems.