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DC-GENERAL  April 2012

DC-GENERAL April 2012

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Subject:

Accessibility Metadata Update

From:

Liddy Nevile <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Liddy Nevile <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 09:44:21 +1000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (111 lines)

(Apologies for cross posting)

Hello!

have you been wondering if anything is happening in the Accessibility  
metadata field? I am about to outline what I know of what is happening  
and would appreciate your comments.

Sorry if this is a long email - there is a lot to say!

Liddy

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
DC Accessibility Community Update - April 2012

You may know that DC Accessibility has been working since 2002 to  
provide guidance on accessibility metadata. The needs of people with  
disabilities call for more than the simple DC terms because people  
often need to know , e.g., not just that this is an image, but that it  
is an image of text so they will need some other resource or  
modification of this one to access the information contained in the  
image.

So step one for DC Accessibility was to have some qualified DC terms  
and some new ones to provide the necessary information.

Then it became clear that whereas many had been relying on the W3C  
techniques for making resources 'universally accessible', it is simply  
not possible to make all resources accessible to everyone. Clearly  
metadata was required!

The first step was to describe characteristics of resources that  
matter when access is limited (the history etc of this is outlined on  
the DCMI website - see http://dublincore.org/groups/access/ and look  
on the wiki for a lot more http://dublincore.org/accessibilitywiki).

Then we also wanted to describe the set of needs a person might have.  
The University of Toronto was able to run a system within their  
university that matched resources to registered user needs, given they  
had both information about their users' needs in a dynamic registry so  
users could change their profile, and all the necessary resources  
specially created for their users. But this would not work in an open  
Web.

The next step was what is known as 'AccessForAll' metadata - a way of  
providing a profile of the needs of users that could be matched to a  
way of describing the relevant characteristics of resources.

While this work was going on, within DCMI we were working to provide  
something everyone could use to describe their resources to make a  
HUGE difference to the discovery process for people with special needs.

We came up with one term that could be added to a DC profile to make a  
very big difference - the term 'accessibilty' - and then an AP that  
could be used by those who were able to offer more. This work was done  
in parallel with other work that was identifying the needs and  
preferences of users and preparing for them to be matched  
automatically and otherwise by suitable resources allowing content  
providers to offer an accessible service - beyond just accessible  
resources. This meant moving from working with the almost impossible  
'just-in-case' approach to accessibility to a much more practical  
'just-in-time' service.

While this was happening, the UN was updating its Convention on the  
Rights of People with Disabilities and the Web was evolving so people  
everywhere were using different devices, in many different contexts,  
and starting to have different needs for the same resources, and so  
the notion of an 'inclusive information society' was emerging.

In the US, the Federal Government started to think about how people  
with special needs could be helped by the cloud. Surely some of the  
services they use for adaptation of resources could be made available  
this way?

And so we moved into a phase in which we are developing the Global  
Public Inclusive Infrastructure (http://gpii.org/). There are a number  
of well-funded projects to advance this work and, particularly in  
Europe, systems are emerging.

So, back to DCMI. It is not yet determined exactly which functional  
requirements will be catered for, or how these will be organised. It  
is not yet clear how the relevant characteristics of resources  
(including services, of course) will be described, but these must  
match the needs and preferences of the users. But it is clear that DC  
metadata is likely to provide some very good solutions to these  
problems.

The original DC Accessibility AP was set up to match the goals of ISO/ 
IEC standard 24751. The terms were not the same but now that standard  
is being revised. The DC AP was a response to a description set of an  
abstract profile of user needs and preferences. This is a stretch for  
some, but theoretically not a problem. Users are not defined by their  
access needs and preferences - because these change according to the  
circumstances - but their immediate functional needs can be described  
in the profile.

So the immediate work for the DC Accessibility Community is to revisit  
what has been done already. This means to check that the needs and  
preferences of users are well-defined and there is a DC conformant way  
of describing them, and to then to provide a well-defined, DC  
conformant way of describing the characteristics of resources. This  
will enable DC metadata systems, or those compatible with them, to use  
the information to help users find resources that will be accessible  
to them. It will help those who provide alternative resources and  
adaptive services make them available without dependence on the  
authors of those resources. We think of cumulative metadata, developed  
by crowd-sourcing and paradata (machine-generated metadata based on  
usage etc), improving the accessibility of the Web.

If you have questions, comments, ideas, or anything else to  
contribute, please share your ideas with us on this list.

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