2004 Conference Proceedings

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THE ALTERNATIVE INTERFACE ACCESS PROTOCOL

Presenters
Bill LaPlant
U.S. Census Bureau, Dept of Commerce
4312 Birchlake Court, Alexandria, VA 22309-1208
office: 301-763-4887
home: 703-360-9184
Email: blaplant@mindspring.com

Gregg Vanderheiden
Trace R&D Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison
2107 Engineering Centers Building
1550 Engineering Drive
Madison, WI 53716
office: 608-263-5788
home: 608-277-1914
cell: 608-345-1488
Email: gv@trace.wisc.edu

Katie Haritos-Shea
11809 Waples Mill Road
Oakton, Virginia 22124-2113
home: 703-448-6155
cell: 703-766-1798
Email: ryladog@earthlink.net

Janina Sajka
American Foundation for the Blind
Suite 400, 820 First St. N.E.
Washington, DC 20002
office: 202.408.8175
home: 301.562.8995
cell: 202.494.7040
Email: janina@afb.net

Chris Hofstader
Freedom Scientific
VP/Software Engineering
11800 31st Court, North
St. Petersburg, Florida 33716
Telephone: 800-444-4443 x1061
Email: chrish@freedomscientific.com

The Alternate Interface Access Protocol (AIAP) is a set of standards for the discovery, selection, configuration, and operation of user interfaces and options. The purpose of the AIAP-URC standards is to facilitate the development and deployment of a wide variety of devices (from different manufacturers) that can act as Universal Remote Consoles (URCs) for an equally varied range of devices and services ("targets"). These URC's can be outfitted with any variety of Assistive Technology to meet the varying needs of persons with disabilities, or they can be universally designed products designed to meet the needs of the general population. The standard will allow users of any ability to control any number of electronic and information technology devices in their environment.

The Targets include both devices and services. They may range from things as simple as a light switch and thermostats, to more complex items such as audio visual equipment, home appliances, electronics in a car, web-based services, and any other devices or services that can be controlled electronically (or via information technology).

Targets may be in the same location as the individual who desires to control the target through the URC, or the target can be at any distance from the URC/user, as long as there is some type of network connection between the URC and the target. This is possible since a URC provides the user with all of the necessary controls as well as the prompts and other information displayed by the target.

The URCs could be common mainstream devices such as personal computing and information technology devices (e.g. laptops, PDAs), telecommunications/WAP devices (e.g. cell phones), etc. They could also be functions implemented in assistive technology devices, or they could be devices which were specially built to function as Universal Remote Consoles. They could be devices which were built to function primarily as a remote console for a particular family of products (e.g. a remote console designed to be part of a home audio visual system), but could also serve to control any other devices which were AIAP-URC compatible. They are similar to the behaviour of universal remote controls today, except a) they would have much greater function and scope, and b) they would not need to be programmed by the user, (since they will automatically discover devices that are controllable in a users vicinity, discover the abstracted user interface of the targets and present it in the way preferred by the user).

The URCs could be all visual, all tactile, or all verbal in nature (or any combination thereof), because the AIAP-URC specifies the content of a target user interface independently from the form in which it is presented. Thus, URCs could be designed that an individual could talk to and, through the URC, the user could have speech access to any AIAP compatible target listed above without any of these targets having any voice recognition or voice control functionality themselves. A person might, therefore, be able to say to their URC, "Record channel 12 and show me 'Law & Order'". Or they could be laying in bed and say, "Set the alarm to 6:30 AM, turn the coffee on at 6:00 AM, and turn on the home security system". Or, if one's spouse is already asleep, a person could pick up their PDA or any other AIAP compatible URC device and accomplish these same tasks silently either by calling up control panels or by issuing the instructions in writing. (The AIAP-URC standard does not provide the natural language control, but would provide all of the information and control necessary for control by a natural language processing URC.)

Individuals with disabilities who have AIAP compatible assistive technologies would be able to use these as URC devices (which have specialized controls or displays selected just for them). This could prove to be a particular advantage since many people with disabilities may not be able to use the default controls or displays on the target, particularly if the individuals had severe or multiple disabilities (such as deaf-blindness). For individuals with disabilities, URCs might provide a unique opportunity to have access to particular targets and/or more efficient access to targets. And by providing a feature that can easily be useful to all populations, we will ensure that a wide variety of manufacturers will utilize the standard, providing benefits to all people.

This session will outline the proposed functions of an URC and a target, and will discuss the current status of the proposed standard. By the time of the CSUN conference, the Draft Proposed American National Standard for the AIAP-URC, including a set of proposed standard documents, will have been released. We will go through them in a high-level overview to inform participants on the features of the standard, on ways to implement the standard in AT devices, and on plans to move the standard forward to an International Standard. More information on the V2 standard can be found at http://www.v2access.org


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