iCARE-Assistant: A Software System to Assist Students Who Are Blind in Accessing Electronic Course Materials

Kasim Candan (Inventor), Sethuraman Panchanathan (Inventor)

Research output: Patent


Courses presented on the web in hyperlinked form allow students to explore the content freely, based on their interests and goals. The student is engaged in an activity to create both meaning and structure through his/her decisions with respect to which link to follow next. However, state-of-the-art browser-based interfaces rely heavily on users' visual skills for information presentation and can result in significant navigational burden. Adaptive hypermedia uses two different but complementary methods, namely adaptive presentation and adaptive navigation. Adaptive presentation is manipulation of content fragments in a hypertext document. Order of fragments can be changed, or fragments can be made invisible or less visible within a page. Stretchtexts, where text fragments can be stretched or shrunk on the basis of user interests, are also used. Adaptive navigation, on the other hand, is the manipulation of links within a given. Direct guidence, link sorting, link hiding, link annotation, link generation, and map adaptation are the techniques used. Nontheless, all these approaches are designed to help sighted individuals. Existing navigational helps, such as site maps and visual cues, are not useful for persons who are blind. Furthermore, for students who are blind, screen reader programs, such as Window Eyes and JAWS, are not always helpful in large hpertext documents with many links, because users may have to listen to the entire document to locate desired information.iCARE-Assistant is a software system being designed and developed to assist students who are blind in easily, with a minimum cognitive navigational load, locating electronic course materials on dynamic network of information pages. iCARE-Assistant is built around ASU's course server (my.asu.edu) that is powered by BlackBoard course management software available for students to access course materials on the Internet. The course server hosts course home pages, each containing lectures, syllabus, assignments, projects, course documents, announcements, external links (links to materials residing in idfferent hosts or different locations in the course server), grades, a calendar, group pages, and a dicussion board. Course pages are prepared by individual instructors on a voluntary-basis. Some of the content is fixed, meaning that it does not change within a semester (e.g. course syllabi), while other evolve (e.g. dicussion boards) through contributions by instructors, TAs and students.Our goal of reducing the cognitive natigational load on students who are blind invovles various technical challenges some of which are listed below:- The system establishes, as precisely as possible, what information is needed, based on the current content, cureent context, access history, user preferences and information, and the hyperlink structure, and present this information to the student in the proper format.- Logical relationships between various related contant, such as announcements that refer to assignments, are captured and used in providing navigational help- Students who are blind are able to easily traverse the site providing keywords, using predefined keystrokes, as well as following provided guidence links.The plug-and-play nature of iCARE-Assistant enables students who are blind to access the content prepared for general users. This saves content preparation time and effort. It further ensures that users who are blink have access to the same material as sighted users
Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Aug 19 2004


Dive into the research topics of 'iCARE-Assistant: A Software System to Assist Students Who Are Blind in Accessing Electronic Course Materials'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this