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AudioScreen an add-on for NVDA

globe of the world taken from nvaccess
Accessible Product

Category: Assistive Technology,

Nomination Details

Organization name: NVAccess

Launched Date: 2015-11-29

Who has created it: Pranav Lal

Problem statement and how the Accessible Innovation solves the problem.

Until now, blind people needed tactile graphics to see images. These require paper, significant manual to produce and therefore are expensive. You have systems such as Iveo from View Plus technology but this requires manual tagging of images and the conversion of the image into scalable vector graphics.

Audio screen provides an accessible way to percieve pictures. It uses a sound schema based on the vOICe from which allows a blind person to get the sense of the shape of the image. Moreover, it speaks whatever is under the screen reader cursor so it is possible for the blind person to hear any information that has been included in an alternative text tag.

Another thing that this add-on facilitates is exploration of the image via the finger when using a touch screen. A user can drag their finger around the image and the sonification will convey the shape of that area of the image.

Tell us who is the target audience and how the accessible innovation will benefit them. Please specify the different target audiences groups and provide numbers and statistics of your current clients as well as what is the potential number of people that the innovation can impact and empower:

The target users are the blind or anyone using a screen reader. According to the world health organization, there are 39 million people who are blind. AudioScreen will help all of them.

The other population who will be helped is educators who teach any subject involving images. These subject range from astronomy to art. It will simplify things for teachers because they need not make any special effort to convey images to the blind. If a blind child wants to see an image, a friend or a teacher can just move the child's finger across the screen or use the computer mouse to guide the child around an image.

Finally, accessibility testers will also find this add-on handy when they evaluate if images are accessible.

How is the accessible innovative solution different from current practices or ways of solving the problem?

Current practices involve the creating of tactile diagrams which are at a low resolution and staff is unable to cope with demand because regular pictures need to be simplified and tagged. Audioscreen does not require any simplification. The blind user uses the same image as a sighted user but for the blind user, the image becomes a multisensory experience because he can use fingers as well as ears to explore it. In addition, image complexity is reduced because he can explore the image in parts.

How is the accessible innovative solution new, different or unique in terms of the technology or implementation?

This is the first time that image interpretation has been incorporated into a screen reader. It combines the vOICe which is a visual prosthesis and screen reading technology. This goes beyond optical character recognition because OCR only reads the text in the image but does not convey any shape information. Audio screen also allows for the sensing of colors in an image which allows for effective navigation of maps and other images that use colors in significant ways

How do you get the innovative solution to reach the target audience? Please elaborate on the your go to market strategy and which geographies do you currently work in and what are your future plans for marketing your innovation.

Audio screen is open source so anyone can modify it and it is free to download, use and modify. NVDA is supported by several non-governmentalorganizations who will bring this add-on to blind users. In addition, audio screen has been designed to work with the least amount of hardware all that is required is a computer, which the user would have in any ase and a mouse which is again a common component.

What is the potential impact of the innovative solution on the lives of the target audience? Please elaborate by providing statistics of the current impact and the potential impact.

The impact is that 62 million people have auniversal way to percieve graphics which makes education in STEM fields a reality. Moreover, there are several career options opened to people with visual impairment and it helps makes jobs easier to do. For example, several blind people work in the area of information technology. However, they are often stymied by graphical flow charts etc. Audio Screen makes it possible for them to see such documents.

Finally, blind people can become full participants in society by being able to feel images. They can participate with the rest of the family in looking at family photographs; no more imagining what the grandkids look like any more.

Stories of how the Innovation has touched lives.

This add-on has allowed me to read architecture diagrams in IT. It has allowed map reading and has given me a better sense of the world.

Links to a few videos about the innovation: