SASWAT: Structured Accessibility Stream for Web 2.0 Access Technologies

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Computer Science

Abstract

We are witnessing a profound change in the interaction model of the World Wide Web (Web). Documents, once created from a single source and delivering static client-side content, have now evolved into composite documents created from multiple third party sources delivering dynamically changing information streams. There are few interaction problems when delivering these parallel streams visually. The real problems arise due to the underlying incoherent nature of this 'new' Web model and the composite documents it creates. Changes in context and multiple dynamic updates all compete for the user's attention, producing an incoherent cacophony if the delivery is serial and in audio. Consequently, naive one--shot sensory translation can no longer support the user.This shift in the way the Web works comes with a corresponding increase in the cognitive load required for audio interaction. Without a full understanding of this evolving interaction model, along with its extent and context, the Web will rapidly become unable to support the interaction of visually disabled people.Our objective is to investigate, design, and build a homogeneous mapping framework to support the relating of competing visual streams into a single coherent and mediated accessibility stream such that when automatically applied to a Web document a mapping from parallel visual to serial audio can be achieved. Indeed, because serial mappings are cognitively simpler to understand we would also expect to see side-benefits in cognitive impairment, ageing, and the mobile Web (Whose users share a number of cognitive similarities with visually disabled users -- RIAM EP/E002218/1).To achieve this objective we propose to undertake fundamental research in the areas of: (a) the cognition and perception of dynamic Web based information; (b) the nature of the new Web interaction / infrastructure model as it evolves; and (c) new Web technologies when applied to visually disabled and sighted users. Thus, SASWAT is multidisciplinary with an industrial route to exploitation and has five major aims: 1) Carry out a fundamental investigation of the visual experiences of sighted individuals interacting with competing dynamic information streams in order to better understand the nature of their interaction; 2) Develop a profound understanding of the nature and evolution of the underlying Web infrastructure as it moves from a traditional stateless paradigm to one focused on composite / compound documents and `push' information streams;3) Build a model of Web interaction, based on this investigation, and a mapping of perceptual and cognitive interactivity from sighted to visually disabled users;4) Design and develop an experimental framework to mediate between the competing demands of compound Web pages and multiple information streams;5) Use our corpus of knowledge and experimental tools to perform a systematic and replicable evaluation of the utility of our approaches.

Publications

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Brown A (2012) Tailored presentation of dynamic web content for audio browsers in International Journal of Human-Computer Studies

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Brown A (2010) Using qualitative eye-tracking data to inform audio presentation of dynamic Web content in New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia

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Brown A (Author) (2010) Learning from sighted user behaviour to present dynamic Web content in audio in New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia

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Chen A (2010) Widget identification and modification for web 2.0 access technologies (WIMWAT) in ACM SIGACCESS Accessibility and Computing

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Harper, Simon; Yesilada, Yeliz (2008) Web Accessibility: A Foundation for Research

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Jay C (2010) A 'visual-centred' mapping approach for improving access to Web 2.0 for people with visual impairments in Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology

 
Description This research work has transformed our understanding of the interaction requirements of visually disabled users. It was originally thought that sighted users would attend to different visual updates in parallel, however, this is not the case. Sighted users prefer to focus on one user initiated task and complete it before moving to the next. This knowledge enables a better translation form visual to auditory input and removes the threat of the expected auditory cacophony from occurring at anywhere near the levels expected. The work has now received a follow on funding grant from Google who wish to see this work brought to a practical resolution in their 'Chrome' Web Browser. By using UoM technology in partnership with Google technology we hope to to bring real practical benefits to visually disabled Web surfers while contributing back to the research community which initially sponsored this fundamental work.
Exploitation Route We already have uses in the non-academic space via our BBC collaborations. Our original question was 'how can we orchestrate to best effect competing updates occurring over multiple viewports on a single device?' Our new collaborative project wishes to recast this question by asking 'how can we orchestrate to best effect competing updates occurring over a single viewport on multiple devices?' Simply we will apply our models, firstly into the DigitalTV space and then into the dual device presentation space, such that multiple independent devices take part in a single orchestrated presentation. In this way, presentations can be tailored to the needs of the individual on their personal device while still communally interacting on the DigitalTV. The work was primarily focused on blind and mobile users and translated multiple parallel visual updates to a structured serial auditory presentation. In turn, the BBC have become interested in how users experience information presented on dual screens (e.g. a TV and mobile phone or tablet computer) simultaneously - and in particular how synchronised content forms an overall experience across the devices - with a long term aim of developing perceptual and cognitive models of dual screen experience to aid development of future technology. Both organisations see a synergy between these pieces of work and wish to answer the question 'How would we orchestrate to best effect multiple information streams over individual devices, which are all participating in a single unified presentation?' In this case we see a route to knowledge transfer from niche into mainstream technology, while the BBC sees a business case for including our knowledge as a base for their dual screen technology development.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Transport

URL http://wel.cs.manchester.ac.uk/research/saswat/project-status/
 
Description This knowledge enables a better translation form visual to auditory input and removes the threat of the expected auditory cacophony from occurring at anywhere near the levels expected. The work has now received a follow on funding grant from Google who wish to see this work brought to a practical resolution in their 'Chrome' Web Browser. By using UoM technology in partnership with Google technology we hope to to bring real practical benefits to visually disabled Web surfers while contributing back to the research community which initially sponsored this fundamental work.
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software)
Impact Types Economic

 
Description World Wide Web Consortium, Research and Development Working Group
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact W3C standards body work in globally influencing the Web Accessibility Agenda.
 
Description ACup: Accessibility Catch-Up - Techniques for Disseminating Accessibility Research
Amount £52,000 (GBP)
Organisation Google 
Sector Private
Country United States
Start 09/2010 
End 12/2015
 
Description MSO: Multiple Screen Orchestration
Amount £37,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/H500154/1?R114060 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2011 
End 07/2012
 
Description SAG (Aloo): Synchronised Attention Grant
Amount £110,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/K503782/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2014 
End 09/2015
 
Title Accessibility Tools Framework (Eclipse Technology Platform) 
Description ACTF is a framework that serves as an extensible infrastructure upon which developers can build a variety of utilities that help to evaluate and enhance the accessibility of applications and content for people with disabilities. A collection of example utilities will also be provided which were created on top of the framework such as compliance validation tools, assistive technology simulation applications, usability visualization tools, unit-testing utilities, and alternative accessible interfaces for applications. The ACTF componentry and the utilities will be integrated into a single tooling environment on top of the Eclipse framework. The framework components will function cooperatively with each other and with other Eclipse projects to provide a comprehensive development environment for creating accessible applications and content. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2009 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Now used by the Japanese government; among many others. 
URL http://www.eclipse.org/actf/team.php
 
Description IBM TJ Watson 
Organisation IBM
Department IBM T. J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Our collaborations with IBM were, in some ways, muted because our main collaborator became a Professor and moved to Dundee. In addition, after this move the group she led at 'Watson' became a casualty of the economic downturn.
Start Year 2007
 
Description IBM Watson Research Centre 
Organisation IBM
Department IBM T. J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights
Country United States 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2007
 
Title All Software 
Description Chrome Auditory Extensions. MobileOK Extensions 
IP Reference  
Protection Copyrighted (e.g. software)
Year Protection Granted 2009
Licensed Yes
Impact All Software is released on GNU licence.
 
Description Industrial Training Courses 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact As part of the SASWAT project, and to disseminate its findings directly, we ran one tutorial / training course: Simon Harper and Yeliz Yesilada. Practical Accessibility: A Web Accessibility Primer. Invited Tutorial - 9th International Conference on Web Engineering. Further, we have provided hands on SASWAT demonstrator evaluations and training to: Macclesfield Eye Society and Walthew House (an independent local charity supporting people in Stockport who are blind, visually impaired, Deaf or hard of hearing or who have dual sensory loss).

Dissemination to the public such that a disadvantaged groups needs are better serviced and peoples needs are listened to.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description International Standards & Public Engagement 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The SASWAT project (and its investigators) is a full-member of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the premier body for the formulation of Web Standards. In this way SASWAT directly influenced the evolution of specific areas of the Web, particularly, the work on accessibility and user agent guidelines. Indeed, the Principle Investigator is an active member in the User Agent Working Group. This contribution is resulting in the creation of a new primary standards document co-authored by the Principle Investigator and directly influenced by SASWAT. To enhance engagement we have instigated the creation of Web space, data repositories, and ePrint facilities where all SASWAT experimental raw data, prototypes, demonstrators and other relevant material are made freely available. The lab and SASWAT Weblogs net an average of 30 unique visitors per day. Both the PI and the RA's have also attended the University's Media Skills training course (recommended by the EPSRC). This has enabled us to make a number of press releases via the central University machinery, netting 46 news stories in the international, national, and local press for SASWAT (EP/E062954/1), including the Manchester Evening News, PhysOrg, and Access IT magazine as well as appearances by 'Jay' on BBC 1 Regional Television News and 'Brown' talking about the success of the project on RNIB Insight Radio. Further, SASWAT has enabled the creation of ongoing links with leading charities and community groups of all ages across the North of England. These currently include: (1) Henshaws Society for Blind People (HSBP); (2) Deaf Blind Services (Walthew House); (3) Macclesfield Eye Society; (4) Access SUMMIT; (5) the UoM Disability Support Office; (6) Age Concern (Trafford); and the (7) Christopher Grange Rehabilitation Centre.

46 news stories in the international, national, and local press for SASWAT (EP/E062954/1), including the Manchester Evening News, PhysOrg, and Access IT magazine as well as appearances by 'Jay' on BBC 1 Regional Television News and 'Brown' talking about t
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010