Voice for Information Society Universal Access Learning

VISUAL is a European project with financial support of the Information Society Technologies Programme of the European Commission, which core objective is to develop voice-based technology to facilitate the design of accessible websites and to improve visually impaired people's access to the web.

In particular, VISUAL aims to :

- Provide web developers with a tool facilitating the creation of accessible pages (both in meeting accessibility specifications and in implementing speech navigation). Ultimately, the VISUAL authoring tool is to be integrated in, or at least be compatible with, any existing well-known web authoring package.

- Implement speech in the navigation as an alternative format for interaction.

- Develop an accessible portal, which can be browsed by means of speech and with contents stored in VoiceXML documents.

The development of a plug-in involving synthetic speech and voice recognition in any type of browser will give incentives to web designers and content providers to create contents that are accessible for all visually impaired people. Thanks to VISUAL, not only will they have the necessary technology, but also an authoring tool that will allow them to create accessible contents easily. A suitable methodology has been designed to that effect by specialists with far-reaching knowledge and experience of information access problems. The VISUAL authoring tool will also be accessible to web designers with a visual impairment thanks to the voice system to be developed by VISUAL.

An e-learning portal has been designed as a practical application of the technologies developed under VISUAL. E-learning plays an ever-increasing part in the world of education, and it is essential that visually impaired people are not excluded from taking advantage of this new educational opportunity. Being a member of the VISUAL consortium, EBU has played a key role in the design of the e-learning portal architecture, bearing in mind the accessibility needs of blind and partially sighted people. It has also largely contributed to the project dissemination plan.

The VISUAL e-learning portal gives access to e-learning websites which accessibility has been tested based on a VISUAL-agreed methodology. It also provides customised services in that the visually impaired user is able to create his/her own working environment, including the e-learning website of his/her choice, encyclopedia, relevant dictionaries and other related didactical materials.

The VISUAL Consortium is composed of the following 9 organizations :

- Soluziona Telecomunicaciones (Spain) - Coordinator

- Soluziona Software Factory (Spain)

- European Blind Union

- Royal National Institute of the Blind (United Kingdom)

- Unione Italiana Ciechi - Verona (Italy)

- Fédération des Aveugles et Handicapés Visuels de France (France)

- Deutscher Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverband e.V (Germany)

- City University (United Kingdom)

- Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium)

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