Accessible Communication Project

Tom Worthington

Proposed Project Topics for Software Engineering, Department of Computer Science, the Australian National University

26 February 2001


The aim of these projects is to demonstrate standards and software to allow a multimedia document to be created once and then rendered in different formats. The technology could be applied to passive applications, such as an electronic academic "paper" to a real-time machine control system. Authoring software would provide the functions of a word processor, web tool, presentation package and AV package. Provision would be made for alternative format for the same information, to allow accessibility features for the disabled to be implemented. The web server and browsers could then negotiate content formats to suit the user's requirements and bandwidth available, converting formats where required. Artificial intelligence algorithms would then allow the document to be automatically structured for the display device. The aim would be to demonstrate streaming a multi-media presentation with audio and "talking head" video in real time to a hand held device over a medium speed wireless Internet connection, as well as to display the same content on a TV set-top box web browser and conventional desktop computer.

Multi-format Document Standards

Implement an open source software prototype demonstrating similar features to the Amaya W3C Editor/Browser, plus simple slide editing features (similar to presentation packages such as Microsoft Powerpoint) and audio accompanied slides shows (similar to RealSlideshow). Investigate suitable open standards, such as HTML and SMIL to allow a web page, slide show and audio accompanied slide show to be prepared as one electronic document. All functions should work on the one logical document, although versions may be generated to suit specific rendering tools. The software should generate documents incorporating accessibility features for the disabled in conformance with the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Document text, images and other content would be shared by all tools (for example the text of the web page would be the default notes for the slide show and the default captions for the deaf on the video). The prototype should use and adapt existing open source where possible.

Server/Browser Protocols for Available Bandwidth

Implement an open source prototype to reduce the resolution of GIF and JPEG images provided by a proxy server, to suit a small screen, low bandwidth hand-held device. Investigate open standards for web servers and browsers to negotiate content formats to suit the user's requirements and bandwidth available. As an example the If feasible video would also be converted to low resolution still key frames and synchronised audio. The software would generate documents incorporating accessibility features for the disabled as described in W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

Automatic Web Page Layout

Investigate artificial intelligence algorithms for automatically laying out web pages and produce an open source prototype software. Document layout "hints" for different renderings of the document (print, web, slideshow and AV) would be explicitly encoded in the document (using XML or similar format) or would be inferred from an existing screen layout. Documents would be rendered to suit the user's requirements and the capabilities of their display device and communications link, through features in the display device and/or in a server (for low capability display devices). As an example multiple frames would be used on large screens and one frame with links on small screens. The software would generate documents incorporating accessibility features for the disabled as described in W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

Resources and Information:

Document Standards

Server/Browser Protocols for Available Bandwidth

Automatic Web Page Layout

"If the tool automatically generates markup, many authors will be unaware of the accessibility status of the final content unless they expend extra effort to review it and make appropriate corrections by hand. Since many authors are unfamiliar
with accessibility, authoring tools are responsible for automatically generating accessible markup, and where appropriate, for guiding the author in producing accessible content.

Many applications feature the ability to convert documents from other formats (e.g., Rich Text Format) into a markup format specifically intended for the Web such as HTML. Markup changes may also be made to facilitate efficient editing
and manipulation. It is essential that these processes do not introduce inaccessible markup or remove accessibility content, particularly when a tool hides the markup changes from the author's view.
" Techniques for Authoring Tool Accessibility, W3C Note 4 May 2000

"The SVG Slide Toolkit transforms an XML file that uses a specific DTD into an SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) slide presentation. This allows you to separate the content of a presentation from its look and feel. This separation allows you to modify independently the content, the presentation style, or both. One advantage of this is that you can then use the same content for different audiences or events. Similarly, you can use the same look and feel for different content. Also, the SVG Slidetool software allows you to transform your XML slide presentation files into PDF. This is useful for submitting presentations where PDF is required or for printing your presentation." SVG Slide Toolkit, October 2000, Vincent Hardy, Paul Sandoz, Ana Lindstrom-Tamer:



This is a simplaified version of topics proposed for honors students. See below:

Further Information

This document is Version 1.0 26 February 2001:

Comments and corrections to:

    Copyright Tom Worthington 2000.