IBM Building Accessible Multimedia Browser

March 30, 2007

Topics: Accessibility, Web Development.

IBM, a company which has long had a strong commitment to accessibility, is in the final stages of developing a new accessible web browsing product with a focus on multimedia.

From “IBM Helps Blind ‘See’ Video, BBC News:

Using the A-Browser, a vision-impaired person can control media content by using predefined shortcut keys, rather than having to look for the control buttons using a mouse.

The browser also allows video to be slowed down, speeded up and can accommodate an additional audio description or narration track that is often included to make films and television programmes more comprehensible to blind people.

The volume controls also allow the user to adjust the sound of various sources independently – for example the main audio track, an audio description track and output from a screen reader.

Obviously, the product isn’t yet unleashed for world-wide testing; but it is available for speculation! I’m not sure exactly how much extra functionality this will add when a user is encountering video without audio description or a narration track, but the simple fact of making existing resources more usable for users with visual impairments is a good start.

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