1 AUGUST 2001

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Internet accessibility for the visually impaired

Making the Internet and computer technologies accessible to people with special needs is a challenge that Kristoff Zammit Ciantar has embarked on.

During the 9th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction to be held between August 5-10 in New Orleans, USA, Mr Zammit Ciantar will be unveiling his two brainchilds: Heed Web snd VisAcoustic.

These two software products are intended to enable visually impaired people to access the Internet and databases by eliminating problems created by current designs.

Mr Zammit Ciantar coordinates the IT department of a foundation for persons with special needs and has been doing so for the past four years.

He states that his hands-on experience while dealing with various disabilities as well as the knowledge gained whilst reading for a BSc Business and Computing degree, have helped him to improve the design of the software programs.

Heed Web converts any web page possible into an accessible format for the partially or totally visually impaired users. Mr Zammit Ciantar states that Heed Web performs various functions including font enlargement, colour scheme options, voice redirection, image descriptions and text parsing. Furthermore, Heed Web eliminates the complete use of the mouse as well as the TAB key.

This will make it possible for blind people to access the Internet and browse through the pages without any barriers.

The other product, VisAcoustic provides database accessibility for the visually impaired. Mr Zammit Ciantar claims that VisAcoustic is the first accessible Database Management System, which caters for blind people. This product is a layer over a standard DBMS, offering an adapted method of presenting data to the user. The product envisages, once again the total elimination of the mouse.

Both Heed Web and VisAcoustic are pre-Beta versions, which means that none of the products have been placed on the market as yet. Mr Zammit Ciantar’s intention is to sell all the rights on all material and design, for further reproduction.

This useful undertaking is not only aimed toward eliminating current barriers, but also to make computer-human interaction for persons with special needs easy to learn and efficient to use and operate.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt