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Japanese Society for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities
This paper provides an overview of the concepts and design of the Adaptive Multimedia Information System (AMIS) and the goals of the AMIS Project. This project has developed an open source a Daisy play back system that allows easy adaption and extension to support multiple disabilities.
AMIS [1, 2] is a software application for the playback of natively
accessible content in the DAISY Format . DAISY playback includes support for SMIL elements and the Navigation Control Center. AMIS
enables accessible presentation through pre-recorded audio, synthesized speech, large print, and Braille renderings.
AMIS employs a flexible XML-based architecture that allows for adaptation of the standard interface to meet the needs of both users and assistive technologies. The
mutable application interface allows it to adapt to user preference, content delivery mode, and
assistive device capabilities. Users may customize font size, color contrast, spacing, volume, playback speed, and presence/absence of interface regions.
Core interface features are derived from both the DAISY playback model and the W3C User Agent Accessibility Guidelines . AMIS XML documents describe application components (controls, content layout regions, dialogs, content renderings) aurally, textually, and visually.
The default application interface allows for visual and aural output; and
touchscreen, mouse, and keyboard input. Through the use of the AMIS Plug-in SDK,
developers can write interfaces to a variety of assistive devices. These devices
can gain access to the same application functionality and content as does the
native interface. Localization is also very easily obtainable in AMIS, because
every aspect of the interface is customizable. Labels on buttons and regions are
all imported directly from the system's Interface Markup documents. The plug-in
architecture allows for the addition of new input methods, to accommodate
techniques such as IME (Input Method Editor generally used for East Asian
languages) and on-screen keyboards. The adaptable interface framework and the
content rendering capabilities, coupled with the use of open standards, enables
the customization or addition of features to meet a broad range of user
The goals of the AMIS Project focus not only on the availability of a Daisy playback system for the international community, but also look to AMIS as a vehicle for technology and knowledge transfer in developing countries. By making the source code freely available, programmers and technicians can learn about the open standards behind the AMIS software (such as Daisy, XML, and SMIL), the underlying software architecture, and can make use of such knowledge to adapt the software to local requirements or create enhancements and extensions to the core software. As the AMIS Project continues, training courses for software developers are being planned in a number of developing countries.
AMIS has been designed to offer easy adaptation to a variety of input and
output devices. Using the plug-in architecture, new user interfaces can be
easily created to provide custom controls or display styles. Examples of AMIS
interfaces developed to date include:
AMIS has built-in support for touch screen interfaces, and using the skins, it is possible to create a easy to use interfaces for DAISY book reading. Large, easy to locate on-screen buttons allow children and adults to control reading activity. An "explain" mode is available, so that users can explore the interface functions without actually activating the controls. The touch screen interface is shown in Picture 1.
Picture 1. AMIS Touch Screen Interface in use.
Large Font Display
Textual information presented during Daisy playback is normally highlighted
in the context of the overall publication in the main AMIS display, synchronized
with the audio presentation of the corresponding text. Display in context,
normally an HTML-style formatted page, is not appropriate to a user with low
vision. The large font plug-in was created to present the current text in a
large type font, using high contrast colors. This text is displayed in a
floating window that can be resized and moved.
In Picture 2, an AMIS configuration using two displays is shown. A notebook
PC is used as the primary interface to AMIS, with a secondary monitor attached
and configured to use the "extended desktop" functionality found in many modern
PCs. The extended desktop on the secondary monitor allows for the large font
window to be "dragged" over the second screen and maximized.
Picture 2. Large Font Display Game Pad
A traditional keyboard may present challenges to some users. In order to
explore user interface models for children with learning disabilities, a simple
control model was developed using an off the shelf "game controller". An AMIS
plug-in was created that maps the joystick and buttons on the game controller to
allow "reading" of the Daisy book. The controller is shown in Picture 3 and
Picture 4 shows the controller in use.
Picture 4. AMIS Game Controller in use. Scanning Input
In cases where a simple switch mechanism is required, scanning menus can be
used to allow users to access program controls. A plug-in was created that
allows a user of a sip/puff tube or other switch mechanism to control AMIS and
thus read a Daisy publication. An on-screen menu presents the available commands
and a moving highlight indicates which menu choice is available for selection.
The menu choices and scan rates are easily defined within an XML file. The
scanning display is shown in Picture 5.
Picture 5. AMIS with scanning menu. Braille
A Braille plug-in was created for AMIS that allows Daisy publications to be read through a refreshable Braille display. The plug-in, initially designed for the Alva Satellite 544, maps buttons on the Braille display to AMIS commands, and allows for easy control of both text only and audio reading. The Braille display is automatically synchronized with the corresponding audio. While reading a Daisy publication, users may pause the audio to review a particular word in Braille, and then resume listening. This interface opens Daisy to deaf-blind users, and provides an interesting method, when used with the large font plug-in, to allow users who are losing their vision to learn Braille with the synchronized presentation of audio, large font, and Braille. A low vision user is shown using a Braille display with AMIS in Picture 6.
Picture 6. Low vision user using both Braille and Large Font display. Speech Recognition
When physical controls are not an option, speech recognition can provide an effective control interface. A speech recognition plug-in was created to allow simple voice commands to be mapped to AMIS control functions. By using a standard microphone, the user may speak commands such as "play", "pause", "set bookmark"; and the command-words are customized by editing an XML file. This helps us to reach different languages and speaker preferences.Flexiboard
The Flexiboard , developed in Sweden by Handitek, is another powerful tool for extending the AMIS interface. The Flexiboard uses a standard keyboard interface to communicate keystrokes. The keys are not ordinary keyboard keys; rather they are "overlays" such as pictures or tangible objects. By using an overlay that looks like an object that is more familiar to the user than a computer (such as images related to reading a paper book), the native accessibility of AMIS and DAISY is coupled with a friendlier computer input method. By using tangible overlays of many different sizes and styles, we can address issues related to motor-control, vision-loss, and deaf-blindness. The combination of the Flexiboard and AMIS is an example of assistive technologies working together to further the scope of DAISY.Conclusion
AMIS provides a flexible, open source platform for creating Daisy reading
systems. The plug-in and skins model allows the AMIS user interface to be easily
adapted to a variety of user requirements. We look forward to contributions from
users, disability researchers and specialists around the world to create an open
library of plug-ins and skins to help bring the potential of Daisy to everyone.
1. DeMeglio, M., Hakkinen, M., & Kawamura, H. Accessible Interface Design: Adaptive Multimedia Information System (AMIS). ICCHP 2002, Linz. Springer Lecture Notes in Computer Science.
2. The AMIS Project, http://www.amisproject.org
3. The Daisy Consortium, http://www.daisy.org
4. World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), User Agent Accessibility Guidelines, http://www.w3.org/TR/UAAG10/
5. Handitek: http://www.handitek.se/text/eng/flexi.htm
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