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MultiReader: a multimodal multimedia reading system for all readers ? including print disabled readers


Multimedia is a feature of many web based and electronic information documents. Multimedia should create an interesting learning or entertainment atmosphere. MultiReader has shown that it is not sufficient to merely provide videos, images and sounds. Many users of multimedia would benefit from alternative modes of presentation, e.g. audio description of videos, subtitles, narration, sign language interpretation, text descriptions. Due to extensive user requirement elicitation and several cycles of user centred iterative design, the MultiReader project has been able to draw together a complete set of user requirements. This information can be seen as a matrix of media and needs, identifying the different formats that each media object can and should be made available in. This knowledge will allow designers of multimedia to be confident in the level of provision they are supplying to print disabled readers. Knowledge of methodology for user requirement and evaluation techniques: The elicitation of user requirements and evaluation data is often concentrated on one user group per project. The MultiReader project has taken a pan-disability approach, and has developed a methodology for dealing with multiple responses from multiple user groups. A matrix of user groups vs user requirements was established, this in turn identified the areas which would be the focus of the evaluations. This identification was based upon the number of users who highlighted areas of greatest need for, or frequent use of specific features in a multimedia reading system. More information on the Multireader project can be found at:
Rich media documents following W3C are integrating several recommendations. In project Multireader HTML has been merged with SMIL (TIME), SVG and mark-up for creating indexes and navigation elements. A set of containers has been developed suitable to enrich HTML documents by redundant media such as sign language videos, audio descriptions, subtitles, etc. Authoring tools for may implement the container structure and apply the naming conventions. Browsers are accessible for people with different reading disabilities if text and simple navigation techniques are being used. The Multireader front-end is a browser that has been developed on the basis of Internet Explorer to provide access to multimedia documents for example to blind readers as well as to deaf readers. Automatic conversion of rich media document according to a user profile is implemented in the front-end. Authors may apply their existing HTML development tools and add more media through containers. The front-end will select the appropriate media then. Usability of the front-end has been evaluated successfully. Thus very heterogeneous reader groups might use the front-end as their single reading program which may be individualized. More information on the Multireader project can be found at:
The particular needs of dyslexic people are rarely examined in the context of the EU research programmes and the MR project has provided an opportunity to examine some of these issues within this context. Dyslexic people are largely unaware of existing accessibility software, which may provide significant benefits. FNB gained knowledge about the requirements and needs of dyslexic users and what the relationship between these needs and those of visually impaired readers. FNB will use the results of the evaluations with dyslexic people to improve their services to their clients and to encourage the future development of new products. More information on the Multireader project can be found at:
The Kath. Univ. Leuven R&D is basically an educational and a research oriented organisation without commercial interests. Nevertheless the MultiReader project is an important activity for our research group. KULRD will increase its research potential in the field of Multimedia Standards, especially XML and related standards: Topic Maps, XSLT, SVG and SMIL. This includes the knowledge and application of up-to-date document editing and conversion as well as topic map design and editing, accessibility verification and management. We: - Learned how to design and implement the Topic Map ISO standard in order to provide a flexible document and navigational model. - Developed a two-step Topic Map editing approach of Topic Map design and real Topic Map editing. - Designed and developed several Topic Map engines based on different technolgies: a XSLT prototype, a Java prototype and a combined XSLT/Java prototype that combines the strength of XSLT and Java. In the development phase we learned how to use XSLT and Java in a sufficient way. - Learned how to present and visualise Topic Maps in a flexible way. We designed and implemented several visualisation techniques, textual and graphical ones based on XHTML and SVG. - Learned how to filter information based on the same central Topic Map. We learned how to use Topic Maps for searching besides navigating. We implemented a smart search engine based on the same general Topic Map. - Learned how to build a dynamic Topic Map engine that transforms one single Topic Map document into a Topic Map application with navigation and search facilities presented in a textual and graphical format. The experience gained in this project will be useful as a starting point for the planned new activities about eLearning by using ‘Knowledge Maps’ (Topic Maps, Mind maps, Concept maps, Bookmaps) as the engine of a flexible and accessible Learning Framework. KULRD's consultancy work on XML and related standards to external companies and organisations will undoubtedly increase. More information on the Multireader project can be found at: