Presentation software, such as Microsoft Powerpoint, has been a primary way to communicate information to participants in many different settings, including education, business, governments, religion, entertainment, and so on. However, persons with blindness or visual impairments find it difficult or impossible to access the slideshow content. Some presenters provide an alternative format of their presentation slides in advance, so that visually-impaired audience members can read them through with a screen reader or electronic braille-reading device. Taking this burden off the presenter, SPARC is a cloud-based Powerpoint add-in that automatically provides real-time alternative access to the information displayed on a public screen.

Technology Description

SPARC consists of 3 inter-related system components, including a SPARC presenter add-in, a SPARC cloud service, and a SPARC user terminal app. Once the slideshow starts in Microsoft Powerpoint, the presenter add-in automatically analyzes the current slide and converts it into accessible text format. Then, it publishes the converted text to the cloud service along with some metadata – including a slide number, information on slide layout, and non-textual object properties in the current slide. Whenever the presenter navigates the active presentation, the add-in automatically recognizes the event and publishes the updated information to the cloud service. The user terminal is an application that receives the published slide information and displays it on user’s devices. The current software is compatible with PC/Macintosh operating systems, iOS/Android tablets and smartphones, and network-accessible Windows CE-based braille note-takers.

Advantages

  • Real-time
  • Automatic
  • Presenter add-in is compatible with Powerpoint
  • User terminal app is compatible with PC/Mac, iOS/Android, and braille note-takers

Applications

  • Individuals who wish to make presentation contents accessible to visually-impaired audience members
  • Commercial, public and private entities that should comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Information Accessibility

IP Status

Invention Disclosure submitted to the University of Pittsburgh.

Stage of Development

Working prototype with ongoing data collection.