Webanywhere: A Screen Reader On-the-Go

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People often use computers other than their own to access web content, but blind users are restricted to using only computers equipped with expensive, special-purpose screen reading programs that they use to access the web. Web-Anywhere is a web-based, self-voicing web browser that enables
blind web users to access the web from almost any computer that can produce sound without installing new software. The system could serve as a convenient, low-cost solution for blind users on-the-go, for blind users unable to afford a full screen reader and for web developers targeting accessible design. This paper overviews existing solutions for mobile web access for blind users and presents the design
of the WebAnywhere system. WebAnywhere generates speech remotely and uses prefetching strategies designed to reduce perceived latency. A user evaluation of the system is presented showing that blind users can use Web-Anywhere to complete tasks representative of what users might want to complete on computers that are not their own. A survey of public computer terminals shows that WebAnywhere can run on most.

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  • Webanywhere: A Screen Reader On-the-Go

    1. 1. Jeffrey P. Bigham, Craig M. Prince and Richard E. Ladner University of Washington Seattle, Washington, USA webinsight.cs.washington.edu A Screen Reader On-the-Go
    2. 2. Web 2.0 Promises and Challenges <ul><li>Advancement in Technical Challenges </li></ul><ul><ul><li>ARIA, AxsJAX, others </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Access to Applications Anywhere </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Email, documents, social connections… </li></ul></ul><ul><li>No screen reader on most computers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Another program to support </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Awareness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cost </li></ul></ul>Introduction
    3. 3. Price Perspective $349 ~$1000.00 ~$349.00 JAWS Screen Reader New DELL Computer Introduction
    4. 4. Outline <ul><li>Introduction </li></ul><ul><li>Accessing the Web On-the-Go </li></ul><ul><li>WebAnywhere </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluation </li></ul>
    5. 5. Accessing the Web On-the-Go <ul><li>Many devices - Serve different needs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Devices you have to carry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Expensive </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Need to carry it with you </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Free Screen Readers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Not installed on most computers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Need permission to install them </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Operating System Built-Ins </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Narrator on Windows </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>VoiceOver on OS X </li></ul></ul></ul>Related Work Hearsay Fire Vox
    6. 6. System Access To Go <ul><li>Originally a screen reader on a USB Drive </li></ul><ul><li>Accessible Download using Flash </li></ul><ul><li>Made free by the AIR Foundation 1 </li></ul><ul><li>But: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Requires running new software </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Requires Windows and Internet Explorer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Download is approximately 10 Megabytes </li></ul></ul>[1] http://www.accessibilityisaright.org (aka, most related work) Related Work
    7. 7. Outline <ul><li>Introduction </li></ul><ul><li>Accessing the Web On-the-Go </li></ul><ul><li>WebAnywhere </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluation </li></ul>
    8. 8. DEMO! <ul><li>For accessible video demo, visit: </li></ul><ul><li>webinsight.cs.washington.edu/webanywhere </li></ul>WebAnywhere
    9. 9. WebAnywhere Summary <ul><li>Self-voicing, web-browsing web application </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Runs on any web-enabled computer or device </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Designed for Minimal requirements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Runs on locked-down public terminals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No software to install </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ Raises the floor” of web access </li></ul><ul><li>Assist web developers in creating content 1 </li></ul>[1] Mankoff et al. , “Is your web page accessible?: a comparative study of methods for assessing web page accessibility for the blind. CHI 2005. WebAnywhere
    10. 10. WebAnywhere Architecture WebAnywhere Client interface in Javascript Speech MP3s retrieved from server Played with Flash or Embedded Players
    11. 11. Outline <ul><li>Introduction </li></ul><ul><li>Accessing the Web On-the-Go </li></ul><ul><li>WebAnywhere </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluation </li></ul>
    12. 12. (15 in Seattle, WA) Evaluation
    13. 13. User Evaluation <ul><li>8 Blind Web Users </li></ul><ul><li>4 Tasks </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Checking email on gmail.com </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Checking bus schedule </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Finding a phone number with Google </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Filling out a survey </li></ul></ul><ul><li>All were successful </li></ul>Evaluation
    14. 14. User Evaluation Likert Scale from 1 Strongly Disagree to 5 Strongly Agree Evaluation
    15. 15. Discussion <ul><li>Requests for current features </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This often varied from user to user </li></ul></ul><ul><li>No one mentioned latency </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Studies conducted in remote locations </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Bottom line </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not ready to give up current screen readers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But wanted WebAnywhere when unavailable. </li></ul></ul>Evaluation
    16. 16. Outline <ul><li>Introduction </li></ul><ul><li>Accessing the Web On-the-Go </li></ul><ul><li>WebAnywhere </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluation </li></ul>
    17. 17. Future Work <ul><li>Release WebAnywhere to users </li></ul><ul><li>Many, many improvements possible… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More shortcuts, better TTS, security 1 , ARIA, downloadable TTS, new languages, improved robustness, integrate with existing screen readers, better prefetching 1 , aggressive caching 1 , user studies, ‘plugin’ support, visual highlighting, explicit support for web developers, … </li></ul></ul>Future Work [1] Bigham et al. “Engineering a Self-Voicing, Web-Browsing Web Application.” In Proceedings of the International Conference on Web Engineering (ICWE 2008) . To Appear. (available at webinsight.cs.washington.edu/publications/)
    18. 18. WebAnywhere is Open Source webanywhere.googlecode.com Future Work
    19. 19. Platform for New Research <ul><li>Improve the Screen Reader Interface </li></ul><ul><li>WebAnywhere as a Web Application </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Platform for usability studies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rapid iterations of design </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rapid dissemination of new designs </li></ul></ul>Future Work
    20. 20. Coming to any computer near you… <ul><li>WebAnywhere alpha release in May 2008 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http://webinsight.cs.washington.edu/webanywhere / </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Contribute to the open source project! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http://webanywhere.googlecode.com/ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Free books for print-disabled people </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Soon, no $1000 screen reader required </li></ul></ul>Future Work
    21. 21. Conclusion <ul><li>Introduced WebAnywhere </li></ul><ul><li>Screen reading web application </li></ul><ul><li>Important as an option </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Blind web users on-the-go </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>People unable to afford another screen reader </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An easy way to experience screen readers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Works on most public terminals </li></ul><ul><li>Blind people can use it </li></ul>Done
    22. 22. The End (Coming May 2008) webinsight.cs.washington.edu/webanywhere Our supporters: National Science Foundation Grant IIS-0415273 A Boeing Professorship Benetech Summer Fellowship Thanks to: T.V. Raman, Sangyun Hahn, Lindsay Yazzolino, Jacob O. Wobbrock, Anna A. Cavender, and our user study participants and consultants.

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