Development: Software Tools

In keeping with the DIAGRAM Center goal of dramatically changing the way image and graphic content for accessible instructional materials (AIM) is produced and accessed, DIAGRAM both creates tools and partners with other organizations to develop tools that achieve this goal.

DIAGRAM-developed tools

  • The Poet Image Description Tool   Poet is an open-source image description tool that makes it easier to create image descriptions for DAISY books and to allow crowdsourcing of image descriptions to reduce cost. The tool is used to add image descriptions to existing books and may be accessed from the Benetech hosting environment, or the code may be downloaded, installed, and managed in the user’s own environment. It includes a feature called Math Helper which allows a user to transcribe math into a machine-readable format (MathML).

DIAGRAM Development Partnerships (“subcontracts”)

The DIAGRAM subcontracts allow us to take advantage of expertise across the community in order to further progress on our goals of advancing tools and technology for accessible digital images. They reflect a push toward cutting-edge solutions for different modalities, providing research on promising new technologies. We look forward to updating the DIAGRAM community on the progress of these initiatives and additional upcoming initiatives that are in the works now during the coming year.

  • Web-Accessible Virtual Electronic Scratchpad (WAVES/JSWAVES) – gh, LLC– The original WAVES software, developed by gh, LLC under a grant from the DIAGRAM Center, is a small Windows application that provides accessible math input and output for blind and visually impaired users. The Web Accessible Virtual Electronic Scratchpad offers a streamlined interface for quick selection of mathematical symbols, voice output for math expressions, and flawless MathML conversion to and from user-inputted math. Can be used in Digital Talking Books, online learning, accessible assessment, and other applications. In early 2014, gh completed work on a major upgrade to WAVES, called JSWAVES (for JavaScript WAVES). Read further details on the April 2014 DIAGRAM blog post about this work.
  • Decision Tree Developed by Touch Graphics, Inc., the Decision Tree (report in Word) is a tool for choosing which print images need tactiles and which need descriptions. A digital decision tree allows the creation of tools that will expedite the work of making textbooks accessible by allowing non-specialists to make good decisions about which images need what kind of treatment to make them accessible. The tool was found to be a successful method for novices to categorize images (mean 66% correct). Future improvements to the tool’s success will come with better understanding and agreement among experts as to whether certain images need verbal or tactile treatment. The open-source image sorting tool was built using Lime Survey.  The related survey questions and the xml are freely available. A flow chart is also available (Word version here) that shows how the decision process was captured in the sorting rubric.
  • Tactile Graphics with a Voice The Tactile Graphics Project at the University of Washington has created the TGV (Tactile Graphics with a Voice), a QR-code reading app that allows text within images to be read and voiced by a mobile device such as an iPhone or Android phone. For those who are interested in creating tactile graphics that include QR-codes for embedded text in images, there is a revised Tactile Graphics Assistant Manual (PDF version here) that includes information about how to include QR-codes. The TGV Design Document is available for both the iOS (PDF version) and for the Android (PDF version). The open source code is available for both the iOS version and the Android version of TGV as well. See the published paper about this work, which won Best Student Paper at the October 2014 ACM SIGACCESS conference on computers and accessibility.
  • The Diagrammar (formerly known as the “Content Model”) in Tobi Tobi is a software tool that allows you to convert a DAISY or EPUB 3 file into a digital talking book (DTB). Tobi uses the Diagrammar as a basis for allowing users to add long descriptions and other image alternatives to a file. Development is ongoing. Click here to see the DIAGRAM-Tobi image description report April 2013
  • Description Templates for Common Graphics – Touch Graphics with Lucia Hasty, Yue-Ting Siu, Josh Miele, and Val Morash  Read full report: Touch Graphics Templates Report (September 2014) Rather than being expected to develop unique prose for each image they are tasked to describe, image describers should be supported to describe according to established guidelines. This will simplify their work, and may reduce cognitive load for readers. This project has created software that prompts describers with image description templates for common types of graphics, based on the NCAM STEM description guidelines. Image describers respond to questions regarding the basic characteristics of a diagram, and are guided through a fill-in-the-blanks process, which generates the first paragraph of an image description. The describer is then free to edit that paragraph and to append additional explanatory language. An assessment program built into the proposed project provides feedback on the consistency and accuracy of descriptions provided by users of the templates. See links to the surveys for the templates by following the links below, and use the participant code “0”:

Please refer to our Research Overview page to see a listing of the research subcontracts completed or in progress.

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