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HELP:Listen to a website. Discovering new design solutions for Web accessibility. Paolo Paolini, Nicoletta Di Blas, Politecnico di Milano (Italy) Marco Speroni Università della Svizzera Italiana (Switzerland). The WEB is essentially VISUAL. Large amount of information in one page

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help listen to a website

HELP:Listen to a website

Discovering new design solutions for Web accessibility

Paolo Paolini, Nicoletta Di Blas,

Politecnico di Milano (Italy)

Marco Speroni

Università della Svizzera Italiana (Switzerland)

the web is essentially visual
The WEB is essentially VISUAL
  • Large amount of information in one page
  • Kind of content recognizable by colour, position, size
they navigate content through a screen reader

Implications for Visually impaired people

They navigate content through a screen-reader
  • Web pages’ content is too complex
  • The graphic’s semantics is lost
  • Lists of items are unusable
  • The command “back” means… having the whole page read again!

When Web pages are “read”:


W3C guidelines

“Priority 1: provide a text equivalent for every non-text element”

w3c standard 1 2
W3C Standard 1/2
    • Quite satisfactory
    • Details satisfactory
    • Overall organization revising
    • Lacking! (but for generic recommendation)
w3c standard 2 2
W3C Standard 2/2
  • It is a “must”
  • It is not the final answer at all!Applications following the standard not necessarily are accessible (in most cases they are not)
our approach wed web as dialogue
Our approach: WED (WEb as Dialogue)

Human-computer interaction interpreted as a dialogue

A joint initiative of the Politecnico di Milano (Italy) and the University of Lugano (Switzerland)

I am interested

in Munch

I can tell you about

his life, his prints, his…

Tell me about the prints

wed approach
WED Approach
  • Focus on information intensive web sites (e.g. cultural heritage)
  • Compare similar human-human dialogues
  • Bring linguistic models in


wed preliminary results
WED Preliminary results
munch web site 2 3
Munch web site 2/3

For the exhibition of Munch’s prints in Berlin (Staatliche Museen) in Spring 2003

Within the HELP project partially funded by the European Commission

Optimised for visually impaired users

munch web site 3 3 an example of advanced feature
Munch web site 3/3An example of advanced feature

The page schema (regularly repeated in the whole site)

first feedbacks
First feedbacks

“The first impression of the site is very positive. The pages are clearly structured. All the links have detailed titles which allow an informativeandniceinternetsession.”

“With JAWS I needed about 1,5 minutes to get a general overview for all further action. This seems to me an acceptable time.”

future work 1
Future work/1
  • Development of systematic/empirical evaluation methodologies, in order to assess more precisely the acceptability of application for blind users.
  • Definition of guidelines for difficult problems, such as dealing with long lists of items or dealing with text referring to visual experiences.      
future work 2
Future work/2
  • Improving the effectiveness of navigational patterns for blind users, who can never look at the screen, therefore must rely only upon oral communication.
  • Development of “semi-oral” navigational patterns, for those users who in a given context (e.g. walking in an archeological park or a museum) would rather listen to the application, but may occasionally look at a (small) screen.

Would you like to know more?

Would you like to help us in our research?