Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Web Browser for the Vision Impaired

IBM is planning to release a web-browser for the hard-of-seeing using open-source software "in order to make it available to the largest possible number of people"...this sounds pretty cool and with the baby-boomer population strolling towards senility, it's almost surprising MORE tech companies haven't publicly announced similar projects. Impressively, the "A-Browser" as it's called, was invented by Dr. Chieko Asakawa, a partially blind Japanese developer for IBM. The new software will incorporate keyboard shortcuts and control buttons to mediate situations where a mouse would have to be maneuvered normally--a tricky task for a visually impared user visiting a new and unfamiliar website.

According to the BBC website, "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."

These last few enumerated "adjustment options" make me wonder whether particularly anal parties might get up in arms over copyright infringement of their media content, should the browser/the browser's users "alter" that content in these ways. I can't imagine a court would rule in favor of such media providers; but stranger things have happened with copyright law...


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