Centre for Human-Computer Interaction Design
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Human-Computer Interaction Design


"Technical Drawings Understanding for the Blind"

Staff and funding

Principal investigator: Prof Helen Petrie
Research staff: Anne-Marie Burn
Funding to the Centre: € 166,182
Funding source: Commission of the European Union
Duration: October 2002 to September 2004

Project description

Digitised technical drawings/diagrams typically used at work, for education and at home are often inaccessible to blind people. The TeDUB project is developing a computer system that will automatically analyse, handle and present the visual data contained in technical drawings to the blind user. The project will develop a system that will provide users with an interface and presentation tool that is specially tailored for their needs. To avoid recreating completely new software environments for blind users, the system will be integrated into available screen-readers. This will allow users to use their existing screen-reader with which they are already familiar. Three domains of technical drawings will be used during this project: electronic engineering circuit diagrams, architectural floorplans/drawings and Unified Modelling Language (UML) diagrams. They contain graphical items that follow industrial norms, like ISO or other standards.

There are 4 key objectives to be achieved by this project:

  • To create an environment for blind computer users that is capable of handling technical drawings that were previously digitised.

  • To create an image processing module which will analyse arbitrary images for contents that match technical drawings.

  • To create appropriate interface(s) for blind computer users to handle the extracted data.

  • To maintain platform independence of the proposed system.

The user will navigate through the diagram using a conventional keyboard and/or a force-feedback joystick. The text on the screen will be read with a screen reader and the user will be given additional feedback with 2D sounds. Spatial information will be conveyed through the force feedback joystick and 3D sounds.

The TeDUB Consortium consists of a number of academic and commercial organizations around Europe. Thus, blind individuals are taking part in the evaluation of the TeDUB system from 4 countries namely, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK.

Project collaborators