Making online documentation easier for the visually challenged

With new technologies and software making the world smaller and easier, it is easy to forget a segment of society that is unable to take full advantage of technology; most technologies are inaccessible to the visually impaired. Microsoft, in collaboration with DAISY Consortium, has opened doors for the visually impaired people by introducing more accessible add-ins in Microsoft Office.

The DAISY Consortium is an international association formed in 1996 that develops, maintains and promotes international DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) Standards. Members of the Consortium actively promote the DAISY Standard for digital talking books because it promises to revolutionise the reading experience for people who have print disabilities.

This partnership has introduced STAMP (Subtitling add-in for Microsoft PowerPoint) and ‘Save as DAISY’ for Office 2010. Almost three years ago Microsoft and DAISY Consortium launched a new software to make it easier for anyone to create accessible documents and content for blind and print-disabled individuals. These advances have been particularly meaningful for persons with disabilities, allowing them to overcome the societal barriers of prejudice, infrastructure and inaccessible formats that stand in the way of participation. And now, Save as DAISY along with STAMP makes document creation via computing easy for visually impaired individuals.

STAMP enables users to add captioning to PowerPoint 2010 video and audio files either by creating the caption within PowerPoint or by importing existing industry-standard Timed Test Markup Language (TTML) files.

And a captioning editor has been added to PowerPoint for those who don’t have access to TTML files. The Save as DAISY add-in was previously used in Microsoft Office 2003 and 2007.

The add-in is an open-source project which can be downloaded by the user for free and which works in all of the languages that Microsoft Office currently supports. These add-ins do promise to create a world with no differences, accessible to everyone.