TitleToward Enhancing Web Accessibility for Blind Users through the Semantic Web
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsSemaan B., Tekli J., Bou Issa Y, Tekli G., Chbeir R.
Conference NameSignal-Image Technology Internet-Based Systems (SITIS), 2013 International Conference on
Date PublishedDec
Keywordsblind users, Braille, Braille output, Browsers, data manipulation technology, data representation technology, data structures, document contents, Guidelines, handicapped aids, heterogeneous Web page representation, information retrieval, knowledge representation languages, Multi-axial navigation, Navigation, ontologies, ontologies (artificial intelligence), OWL, RDF, RDFa, Resource description framework, screen readers, Semantic annotation, semantic data description, semantic Web, semantically enhanced techniques, Semantics, SPARQL, SW technologies, touch sensitive screens, touch-screen semantic navigation, Visualization, W3C recommendations, Web data accessibility, Web data navigation, Web information, Web navigation, Web page design, Web surfers

The problems of Web data accessibility and navigation for blind users have become an active research field for the past decade. Many techniques have been created to solve them, some are hardware based and others are software based. Yet, the Web is rapidly evolving toward the far-anticipated Semantic Web (SW): a revolutionary vision extending Web information with well-defined meaning so that it becomes more easily accessible by human users and automated processes. As a result, SW technological breakthroughs such as ontologies and semantic data description, as well as data representation and manipulation technologies (i.e., RDF, OWL, and SPARQL) are being recently explored to improve data accessibility for blind Web surfers. In this paper, we briefly explore existing studies targeting Web data accessibility for blind users, ranging from traditional techniques (Braille output, screen readers, etc.) toward semantically enhanced techniques (using SW technologies). Then, we present an ongoing framework, exploring SW technologies (namely RDF, RDFa and OWL) in order to improve the representation of heterogeneous Web pages (typically pages not conforming to the W3C recommendations for Web page design), adapting the document's contents and presentation so that it best fits the blind user's needs.