Knowledge domain accessibility #9
Support for the presentation of, and interaction with knowledge domain content on the web is uneven at best. We note renewed activity in the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to ameliorate this situation in certain knowledge domains and inquire after generalized approaches which might be codified to enable knowledge domain experts to provide more robust support in their area of expertise. We focus specifically on providing accessibility support across knowledge domains that can enable and empower persons with disabilities in their education and professional relationships.
Accessibility to text-based web content and to interactive desktop-type widgets, such as checkboxes, menus, and sliders, has been made quite robust and reliable for persons living with sensory and motor disabilities. We are making progress extending support for persons with cognitive and learning disabilities.
Recent standardization work has begun providing accessibility support for graphically expressed knowledge through SVG.
Many intellectual disciplines, however, routinely express knowledge and facilitate discourse utilizing knowledge domain specific symbology. Mathematics is expressed and interacted with symbols and semantic constructs radically different from those used in music scoring, both of which differ markedly from linear textual presentation, even where semantic textual structures have also been made accessible.
Examples of knowledge domain symbologies include, but are not limited to:
Additionally, there are common practices even in textual content not well supported for accessibility for users who rely on, or significantly benefit from accurate synthetic text to speech (TTS) content pronunciation. Examples here include:
NOTE: The term "hyperlink" is set off in quotations because the common practice predates hypertext technology, and is commonly rendered in print through defined symbols for "cross referencing."
Indeed we need a generalized method to represent a wide range of domain specific information. Persons with dyslexia and other cognative disabilities will need the presentation highlighted and spoken. Persons with low vision will need the information enlarged, highlighted and spoken. Persons who are blind will want to hear the content and have it presented on their refreshable braille device. The navigation of each item is essential. I have heard a recording of a person reading a math expression, and it goes in one ear and out the other. I am blind and need to navigate from item to item to understand what is being presented. Having a generalized way to do this that meets everybody's needs would be wonderful. Math is a great example of the problem. However the method for authoring and the method for reading the material will probably be different, we should also consider the authoring side of this issue.