Project AcceSciTech – Access to scientific and technical documents for visually disabled people (2011-2014)
The AcceSciTech project seeks to solve the problems of access to scientific and technical literature for people with vision impairments, and more broadly, for people prevented play on the classic edition media. Scientific and technical literature, means a set of varied documents (books, articles, handouts, transparencies, etc) printed or digital, containing complex elements such as mathematical formulas, curves, tables, diagrams or schemas. These documents can treat ‘hard sciences’, or social sciences and Humanities, and apply as well to the general public if it is popular books only to specialists in the case of academic textbooks.
Visually impaired people access the written by touch using braille (static when it is printed on paper or dynamic when it is displayed on a braille terminal), listening to the text read by a narrator or a synthetic voice, or sometimes by the sight by reading the text in large type. These modes are complementary: for example, it is useful for a blind student learning to read a sentence in braille while he listens to it. DAISY and EPUB formats will be so implemented in this project, because allowing to separate the content of a document from the way it is presented, they provide the necessary framework for the simultaneous return of same contents in different modes. In addition, these formats offer the possibility of structuring a document in order to make the easy consultation, allowing the user to navigate easily and to decide whether they want to be aware of some elements considered optional as notes or page numbers.
Focus on the problems of access to scientific and technical literature, this is for example to ask:
How to effectively produce highly structured documents from various sources (books scanned, files provided by a Publisher, etc.)?
What editing environment set up so that experts gradually adapting a document containing a large number of images to describe?
How to render a mathematical formula in braille and sound manner?
How to decrease the time required for the taking of knowledge of a complex document rendered on a braille display?
In France, the law allows bodies approved to ask publishers files sources used in the production of printed works subject to copyright and to broadcast a version adapted for the disabled. Remain to create the technical prerequisites for a significant increase in available supply in order to operate this favourable legal environment. This is what attaches to the project by developing tools to automate the maximum production of scientific papers and techniques adapted.
The creation of fully accessible documents requires human intervention, for example to describe images. This is why AcceSciTech also deals with the problems related to editing such documents by qualified speakers, by proposing a Wiki collaborative environment dedicated to the adaptation.
The documents will be disseminated via the francophone digital library BNFA to which the project aims to integrate new features for customizing content based on the needs of the user.
Finally, a tool for multimodal return of complex documents will be proposed, implemented on a Notepad braille with a hardware device for detecting the movement of the user’s fingers, creating new opportunities to improve the knowledge of structured content. Tests will be conducted with Visual deficient users.