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Italian Semester of Presidency of the European Union

EUROPEAN CONFERENCE OF MINERVA

Quality for cultural Web sites
Online Cultural Heritage for Research, Education and Cultural Tourism Communities

Parma, 20-21 November 2003, Auditorium Paganini




Paolo Paolini - Nicoletta Di Blas (Politecnico di Milano)
Marco Speroni (University of Lugano)

"HELP: Listen to a Web Site - Discovering new design solutions for web accessibility"


ABSTRACT

Many of the activities of our contemporary society are based on information (and possible operations) made available through the World Wide Web. Practical information, images, presentations, sale catalogues, booking and reservations, selling and buying, are exchanged, purchased, activated through the Web (or find their vehicle in the Web).
The problem of how to make web applications "accessible" to people with visual disabilities has recently gained much interest: W3C consortium, that supplies the "strategic" guidelines for the web, has emanated a standard, based on documents prepared by associations of visually impaired people.
The W3C standard is an important, though still inadequate, step to solve the problem. Anyone who sees a blind person using a screen reader can realize that although the site complies with the W3C standard, it is almost unreadable in practice.
The Politecnico di Milano (HOC Laboratory of the Department of Electronics and Information) in cooperation with TEC-Lab (University of Italian Switzerland), has developed an innovative technology that allows overcoming most of the W3C limitations. New guidelines for accessibility, as well as a new design technique (an evolution of W2000, developed by Politecnico di Milano, HOC lab), have been developed, allowing the implementation of a new generation of Web sites, very usable and effective for sighted people, optimized for visually impaired people. The first deployment of this technology is the Web site for the Munch's exhibition taking place in the Staatlichen Museen of Berlin (www.munchundberlin.org). The Web site has been realized within HELP, a project partially funded by the European Commission, under the program CULTURE 2000.

   



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