An Alternative Information Web for Visually Impaired Users in Developing Countries

Websites in World Wide Web are primarily meant for visual consumption. Accessibility tools such as screen readers that render the visual content in audio format enable the visually impaired to access information on the websites. Despite standards that are available to make websites more amenable for screen reading softwares, not many website authors embed the required metadata information that feeds into such tools. Moreover, the wide variety of visual controls available make it harder to interpret the websites with screen readers. This problem of accessing information and services on the web escalates even further for visually impaired in developing regions since they are either semi-literate/illiterate or cannot afford computers and high-end phones with screen reading capability.

In this paper, we present an alternate platform — the World Wide Telecom Web (WWTW), for delivering information
and services to the visually impaired. WWTW is a network of VoiceSites that can be created and accessed by a voice
interaction over an ordinary phone. We present user studies which demonstrate that the learning curve for using applications on the Telecom Web is relatively low and does not require extensive training. The study leads us to believe that the Telecom Web can be the mainstream Web for blind users.

By: Nitendra Rajput, Sheetal Agarwal, Arun Kumar and Amit Anil Nanavati

Published in: RI08010 in 2008


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