Software for Automatic Conversion of Professional Journals to Fully Accessible Fo

Period of Performance: 01/01/2008 - 12/31/2008


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Viewplus Technologies, Inc.
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The long range goal of this project is to create technologies that permit authors and publishers of professional journals easily to make their content available in a form that is fully usable by all people, in particular by people who are blind or have other severe print disabilities. The specific aim of this Phase I SBIR project is to assess the feasibility of automatic transformation of current journals published by the American Physical Society into DAISY (Digital Accessible Information SYstem) format. DAISY ( is an international standard for electronic documents accessible to all people, but in particular to people with disabilities who cannot read normal printed materials. The PI was a member of the DAISY working group that recently expanded the DAISY specifications to include math in form of the MathML markup language and is a member of the current DAISY working group developing guidelines for including graphical information as accessible Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG). As part of this proposal, DAISY prototypes will be created for all articles in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters, the flagship journal of the American Physical Society. These prototypes will be complete with fully accessible text, math, and graphics. Text and math access should be excellent. The greatest challenge is making the graphics accessible. ViewPlus has already developed technologies that make possible universal access to graphical information in well-structured annotated SVG format. Automatic conversion of current APS content would include no annotations, so some figures would not be excellently accessible. If automatic conversion gives acceptable access to most content, it is feasible to provide current APS and possibly many other professional society journals in accessible form. Human editors could quickly improve figures on demand to add annotations and correct text errors. Improved accessibility to automatically converted content is achievable in the future with improved authoring and publishing technologies. This project could stimulate vast improvements in accessibility by people with print disabilities to technical publications and any other literature in which graphical information is important. Better information access obviously can lead to improvement in educational and professional opportunities and quality of life for people who are blind or have other severe print disabilities. Quality of life issues for blind people are part of the mission of the National Eye Institute.This proposal is relevant to the mission of the National Eye Institute, because it could lead to making scientific professional journals available to blind professionals immediately on publication without need for intervention by human assistants. It should also increase pressure on other publishers to make their literature universally accessible. This achievement would have an obviously highly beneficial direct effect on education and professional opportunities, mental health, and quality of life of blind people. Mental health and quality of life issues for blind people are parts of the mission of the National Eye Institute.