AHA: Audio HTML Access

Frankie James, Stanford Computer Science and CSLI

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University February 27, 1998


Every day, more and more information is being made available online to the general public in the form of electronic documents. Since the advent of the WWW, hypertext (in particular, HTML) has become the medium of choice for the presentation of these documents. This is because HTML can be used to present not only the text of a document, but also much of its structure. The ability to use this structure in a generic (multi-modal) way would mean that electronic documents could be accessible to everyone, even non-standard users such as blind users or users connecting to the WWW via the telephone.

In this talk, I will present my research into the development of audio interfaces to HTML that can allow blind users (and others) to access the WWW non-visually. In particular, I will discuss the AHA (or Audio HTML Access) framework that I developed for choosing the types of audio markings to use in an HTML interface. This framework, which was based on user testing, can be used in conjunction with other information about the users and their tasks to allow interface designers to select specific sounds for the presentation of HTML in audio..


Frankie James is completing her Ph.D. in Computer Science at Stanford University. Her dissertation is on auditory interfaces to HTML for blind computer users and others who might need to access the WWW nonvisually, such as PDA users or people driving cars. She has developed the AHA framework as a means for choosing sounds to use in such interfaces, based on empirical evidence gathered from user testing. Frankie has also worked for the Archimedes Project at Stanford's Center for the Study of Language and Information (CSLI), whose goal is to promote equal access to computer technology for individuals with disabilities.


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