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Images on the Web are evolving from static JPEG and GIF files to structured formats such as SVG and dynamic images produced using the canvas element. The potential exists for descriptive information about the image to be closely coupled, and perhaps, contained within the image format itself. The concept of Smart Images is put forward as an approach where images directly contain sufficient information, exposed through a standard interface, to allow access in a user's preferred modality. Smart Images may incorporate structured text, sonification, and haptic information which can be used to describe and facilitate exploration and understanding via available technologies (e.g. screen readers, tactile embossers, devices incorporating haptic feedback, or 3D printers).
Page author(s): Markku T. Hakkinen, Educational Testing Service
Image accessibility, alternate formats, image description, sonification, haptics
Images have posed challenges to users with disabilities from the very beginning of the Web. Though the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are clear in defining that images with informational content must provide alternate text (via the alt attribute), there remains uncertainty over how to provide longer descriptions, a key requirement for accessibility of complex images and diagrams. With the growing utilization of SVG and HTML5 Canvas for creating images on the Web, the question arises whether the alt attribute or the proposed long description alternatives are adequate for providing a mechanism image description. SVG, for example, provides a framework for incorporating accessibility information   and examination of how to incorporate WAI-ARIA in SVG is underway . A W3C Community Group, Accessible Infographics, has been formed  and external to W3C, the DIAGRAM Center  is a project examining several aspects of image description, including research and standards, and is defining a content model for image descriptions. Researchers in academia and industry are exploring a variety of approaches to providing accessibility to images, ranging from sonification to virtual tactile/haptic interactions, with potential application ranging from the near term to several years out.
Smart Images, as defined in this proposal, would comprise images that are structured, may incorporate or be a component of interactive content, such as simulations, and contain within the image object, sufficient descriptive information to provide an accessible rendering in multiple modalities.
This proposed symposium will bring together researchers engaged in exploring Smart Images and accessibility and seek to identify developments likely to have impact on ongoing standardization efforts. In addition, opportunities for research and collaboration will be highlighted.
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3. ARIA Markup
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