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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/X012395/1
Title: Content Accessibility (CA11y): Highly Individualised Digital Content for Supporting Diverse Needs
Principal Investigator: Neate, Dr T
Other Investigators:
Cruice, Dr M
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Aphasia Re-Connect Dyscover Ltd
Department: Informatics
Organisation: Kings College London
Scheme: New Investigator Award
Starts: 01 October 2023 Ends: 30 September 2025 Value (£): 284,160
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Human Communication in ICT Human-Computer Interactions
Vision & Senses - ICT appl.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Creative Industries Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
24 Jan 2023 EPSRC ICT Prioritisation Panel January 2023 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Our communication is increasingly mediated through the creation and consumption of digital content such as videos, podcasts and myriad forms of social media. Access to digital content has become integral to our social and civic participation in society. Much of this creation and consumption, however, is not equally accessed by all. People with accessibility needs face several challenges in accessing digital content and are therefore at risk of isolation. Accessibility capabilities for digital content are typically viewed through the lens of standards such as subtitles and audio description. While these are helpful for some users, digital content still introduces challenges for many with a range of diverse needs. This proposal aims to explore the design of bespoke accessibility solutions, based on a given individual's exact needs, to support access to digital content.

CA11y (Content Accessibility: Highly Individualised Digital Content for Supporting Diverse Needs) proposes a shift in how we consider the provision of accessible digital content. CA11y will envision and develop technologies that allow for highly-responsive content, unique to each individual's accessibility needs. Simultaneous, individual renderings of content will allow us to explore previously unconsidered accessibility solutions. For instance, for users who face challenges with speech, we might limit the background noise in a radio drama to make the actor's voice clearer. We might slow a news ticker to support easier comprehension. We might completely reconfigure content so that scenes with complex dialogue or textual descriptions are removed. Or, finally, we might change the visual contrast of individual onscreen elements (e.g. graphic overlays) to support ease of viewing.

The distribution of digital content via the internet, with accompanying metadata, means that content can respond to the end-user's requirements. This may be rendered to an individual's devices or needs, based on some rule-set or ontology. This concept is broadly termed Object-Based Media (OBM). Crucially, OBM enables an entirely individual rending of digital content for each end-user. While the distribution of digital content in such a way has been shown to offer novel exciting, responsive digital content experiences, little work has explored what this can mean for accessibility.

The highly individualised digital content afforded by concepts such as OBM provides transformative potential to support those with a range of diverse accessibility needs. CA11y will work with one such group - people with aphasia. Aphasia is a language impairment that affects one-third of stroke survivors. People with aphasia often have a range of complex accessibility needs due to specific challenges with language, notably listening, reading, speaking and writing. This means that they often can no longer engage with digital content, meaning they face a growing digital divide. The aforementioned accessibility standards such as subtitles and audio description do not cater to their needs. In CA11y, people with aphasia will support the co-design of an innovative range of technological prototypes to support their access needs through responsive, individualised digital content. CA11y will act as a radical first step in a new research field that seeks to support those with a range of access needs through highly individualised experiences, with users with aphasia acting as an exemplar for others with accessibility needs.

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