Museums and the Web

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Listen to a Website: Accessibility (Beyond Current Standards) and a Market Opportunity

TitleListen to a Website: Accessibility (Beyond Current Standards) and a Market Opportunity
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsDi Blas, N., Paolini P., Speroni M., & Bienert A.
Secondary TitleInternational Cultural Heritage Informatics Meeting: Proceedings from ichim03
PublisherArchives & Museum Informatics
Place PublishedÉcole du Louvre, Paris, France
EditorPerrot,(d. 2007), X.
Keywordsdialogue, ichim, ichim03, screen-reader, visual disabilities, Web accessibility, Web design

Accessibility to the web, for users with some kind of disabilities, is becoming a major concern for all the institutions, especially those providing resources related to Cultural Heritage. In this paper we focus upon accessibility for those users, with visual disabilities, who utilize a “screen reader”, i.e. a SW tool capable of “reading” a web page. In particular this paper illustrates WED, WEb as Dialogue, an innovative approach, developed in a joint effort between HOC-Lab (Politecnico di Milano, Italy), and TEC-Lab (University of Italian Switzerland). The basic idea of WED is that a web experience (i.e. the session of a user with a website) can be assimilated to a dialogue: the user’s conversational turns consist in selecting links; the machine’s conversational turns consist in providing adequate content (as reply to previous user’s requests) and offering new possibilities for the continuation of the dialogue (cues given by links). While a “typical” web page, read via a screen reader, is nearly impossible to understand, the WED approach allows designing websites that offer a more natural “oral interaction” for visually impaired users. In addition even users with no disabilities may find useful to “listen to” a web site: e.g. while they can’t look at a screen or they are using devices with very small screens (as a PDA, for example). A first concrete result of this technique is the web-site, prepared (within the project HELP, partially funded by the European Commission), for an exhibition at the Staatliche Museen (Berlin, April 11th - July 13th 2003).