Winners chosen for Imagine Cup Accessibility!

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The Awards ceremony was yesterday, and all the student winners were announced! The onsite 24-hour Interface Design Accessibility winners were Team JivAd, from France. Throughout their analysis of the design problem and their proposed design solution, they thoughtfully incorporated accessibility requirements. They highlighted aspects of their design that would make it easier for people to use. When more information about the design problem and their solution is published, I will post a link.

Also, WebAnywhere was announced as the winner of an online Imagine Cup competition, Accessible Technology Exceptional Achievement award. WebAnywhere is a web-based screen reader that can be used by people on any computer, like public computers. 

More information can be found at:

http://imaginecup.com/About/News.aspx

http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2008/jun08/06-18imagineaccess.mspx

Congratulations to the winning teams, and to all the teams that participated in the Interface Design Challenge. It was a pleasure being the Accessibility captain and watching your creativity shine through.

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  • Hey accessibility team at MS, I found this recently started blog after much searching. I wish to learn more about some new options which I discovered in Windows Vista which I do not understand/on which there isn't sufficient documentation. Can you explain what these options mean in detail?

    - Turn on Audio Description (In which app are Audio Descriptions heard? WMP or Vista Media Center?)

    - How long should Windows notification dialog boxes stay open (This setting applies to which notificaton dialog boxes?? Can you give an example?)

    - Turn on text captions for spoken dialog (Does this mean closed captions? Which app supports these)

    Also, how do we author media with Audio Descriptions and closed captions?

  • Hi. Thanks for your questions! I'm compiling the answers and will post them in the next day or two.

    -Annuska

  • Regarding your captions and audio description questions:

    Audio Descriptions are verbal descriptions of what is happening visually in a video. The primary users of Audio Descriptions are people who are blind. Some DVDs have the option for playing Audio Descriptions while the movie is playing.

    Currently, WMP and Vista Media Center do not play Audio Descriptions. But other media players may. It is a relatively newer idea in video accessibility and still gaining adoption.

    Regarding captions, web captions can be open or closed, depending on how it is supported in the player. WMP does support captions, as does Silverlight.

    There is a nice description of both captions and audio descriptions writen by WebAIM, at: http://www.webaim.org/techniques/captions/. And instructions for adding captions to WMP: http://www.webaim.org/techniques/captions/windows/add_captions.php.

    As for notification dialogs, these are the balloon tips that show up in the system tray when an application has a message for you. The operating system (Windows) provides these settings, and then the final step is for an application developer to use these settings to alter the behavior of their application. So, any application on Windows can (and should) rely on these user settings to know whether or not to display captions, audio descriptions, and how long to keep Notification dialogs open.

  • Thank you for the answers. However, I wish to know if the specific features (Audio descriptions, captions, notification dialog box settings) are available in Windows XP. They're definitely not the Accessibility control panel in XP, are there any registry settings or are these features newly introduced in Vista? Also, if WMP and Media Center does not support AD, how does that setting affect third party media players? Also, the "balloon tips" aren't "dialog boxes" by any means and I tried changing that setting to 30 seconds however it seems to have no effect on ANY balloon tip whatsoever in Windows Vista.  I am trying to find a notification that is really affected by this setting, so far I can't find a single one that respects this setting. Is this setting also available in XP and if yes where can it be configured? (I am comfortable with the registry).

  • Hi. Thanks for responding back - we definitely want to get you the specific information you want. A program manager is trying out some things on Windows XP and we'll respond (hopefully next week).

  • Please reply to my latest queries. :) I want to know exactly what new accessibility settings/APIs are introduced with Vista, not the end-user features like Ease of Access Center and Speech Recognition which I already know of.

  • Here's the MSDN article with the Vista accessibility system parameters:

    http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms695630(VS.85).aspx.

    For example, Audio Description setting is retrieved using the GETAUDIODESCRIPTION system parameter call.

    And this article lists all system parameters, and notes when they are supported. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms724947.aspx

    In the table, you'll find that "SPI_GETAUDIODESCRIPTION" says "Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP/2000:  This parameter is not supported."

    Thanks.

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