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IBM addresses multimedia access for blind. Deaf access where?

IBM has developed a browser to make multimedia content such as video, accessible for blind people.

The browser also allows video to be slowed down, speeded up and can accommodate an additional audio description or narration track that is often included to make films and television programmes more comprehensible to blind people.

The volume controls also allow the user to adjust the sound of various sources independently - for example the main audio track, an audio description track and output from a screen reader.

Whilst this is encouraging, and kudos to IBM here, it also assumes the person can hear too. What about deafblind people's access?

IBM goes onto state that:

"We're beginning to look at accessibility as a very important business area," said Frances West, director of IBM's Human Ability and Accessibility Centre.

"This is not just from a social responsibility standpoint, but with ageing baby-boomers we think that such technology could really benefit the population in general because all of us will be on this ageing journey."

This is encouraging, and addresses a bit of my concern yesterday, re lack of access to multi media content. Like every person out there, I would like to see audio access addressed already. Where are the subtitles, the voice recognition to translate videos into subtitles? I wish IBM and other companies would move quicker on this. However, technology solutions alone cannot address access, and it needs to come from people's attitudes too.

It seems that the project is open source, which will allow other developers to chip in with content. Something developers in the deaf community could learn about, and the downside of keeping source code closed - egos are not more important than getting better technology:

The company plans to "open source" its new accessibility software in order to make it available to the largest possible number of people.


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