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Robert Pearson

Accessible Media

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Achieving Inclusion through Gesture, Touch and Voice

As with most assistive technologies, gesture, touch and voice will allow for increased levels of inclusion for persons of all abilities, not only in the consumption of accessible media, but in many aspects of our daily lives, says Robert Pearson.

One of the challenges in providing accessible media content to the consumer is in having a sense of how they will consume it. Media in general can be presented with captioning, description, signing, and various other enhancements, however, without the knowledge of configuration of the end-users system there can be no guarantee that any fully accessible media does in fact become accessible to everyone.

Image: A person enjoying a PC-based video game There have been many technology and hardware advancements to address this, which originate from a variety of sectors, including media broadcast systems, web-based software systems and gaming technologies. It is these gaming technologies, though, that have likely contributed the most to the advancement of gesture-, touch-, and voice-based systems to allow a user to utilize a variety of controls on their end-user system to suit their specific needs. By allowing the player to “become the controller” of the game, a certain amount of freedom of interaction and increased accessibility becomes possible.

From a broadcast standpoint, gesture, touch and voice have become valuable assets as the designs of the common set-top television boxes continue to evolve. For instance, historically, gaining access to an audio description track through a standard remote control that requires a series of buttons to be pressed in a specific order has been a challenge for most. Having the ability to use these new assets to do the same, allows for greater accessibility on the end-user system, which provides for increased inclusion in the consumption of the media it provides. While accessible set-top box systems have been developed in the U.K., Australia and Asia, thus far there has been no implementation of these types of systems in North America. This is a reflection of the state of the broadcast systems in these regions and the current levels of accessible media content that are available.

Read: Ocean Blue Software in the U.K. has developed a Talking TV: Advanced Text to Speech Technology while Panasonic also recently launched a range of Talking TVs.

Beyond that, there is any number of possible implementations of these gaming technologies, including the provision of eye sight itself. In September 2011, I had the opportunity to visit researchers at Oxford University who were utilizing actual components of a common gesture-based gaming system to construct ‘Smart Glasses’ to not only assist a user in the enhancement of the accessibility of their end-user system, but to also increase their actual level of vision and what they could see.

As with most assistive technologies, gesture, touch and voice will allow for increased levels of inclusion for persons of all abilities, not only in the consumption of accessible media, but in many aspects of our daily lives. We know, however, that accessibility can at times be a victim of slow moving objectives, legislation and policy. By focusing on the broad reach of these technologies for persons with all abilities, it may be that these gaming technologies provide general accessibility far more quickly than other technologies that may have preceded them.


Related News

Related Blog: Art of Audio Description: Setting Standards and Regulations for a Universal Audience by Robert Pearson | Read blog.

Related Publication: Making Television Accessible - an ITU-G3ict publication | Download the report.

Related Event: G3ict participates in ITU Telecom World 2012 in Dubai | October 14-18, 2012 | Read how we can leverage new demographic opportunities for mobile applications and services.

Related News: The AbleGamers Foundation recently opened an Accessible Arcade at the Washington, D.C. Public Library



Related Items:

• The Archimedes Project


• Digital Inclusion for a Better EU Society

• The Disability Inclusion Initiative Employment Sector (July 2009)

• UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Address

• Inclusion International 16th World Congress, Nairobi, Kenya

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