COV885: Special Module in Computer Applications

II Semester 2020-21


Name of course:              Creating Accessible Documents for Visually Impaired

Course level:                     PG - Senior and Research

Instructor:                            Prof. Volker Sorge and Prof. M. Balakrishnan

Discipline:                          Information Technology

Lecture hours:                   14 Hours

Pre-requisites:                 Programming, Data Structures


Course Description:  Persons with visual impairments are still underrepresented due to inaccessibility of the STEM (Scientific, Technical, Engineering, and Mathematical) content. STEM document contains a number of artefacts like table, equations, diagrams, data visualization, etc. that remain inaccessible as screen readers have primarily focused on plain text. This course will focus on conversions of various artefacts from inaccessible formats to accessible formats. Here, accessibility means access to persons with visual impairments with assistive technologies like screen reader.

Syntactic and semantic analysis are required for the accessibility of the tables and equations. Syntactic analysis is required to understand the mathematical relations between the different variables of the equation. On the other hand, semantic analysis is required to adapt the audio rendering on the basis of the context to minimize the verbosity and cognitive load. Further, individual user specific adaptations are required to enhance effectiveness as well as efficiency of audio rendering. Such adaptations should be based on the individual user’s experience with audio rendering as well as familiarity with the content.


Course Contents (# of lecture hours)



# of hours


STEM Documents and their features


Document sources

Retro-digitized, born digital and born accessible


Formats and conversion

Physical (paper) and digital and associated conversion challenges



Representation, generation and recovery techniques


Physical and other accessibility techniques

Braille, tactile, audio-tactile and haptics


Electronic accessibility

Screen reading, interaction & sonification



Adaptations including impairment specific and localization



Lab component (if relevant)

There would be a supplementary laboratory component. Details are available at

This would expose the students to creating accessible equations, chemistry diagrams, physics diagrams and statistics. On the whole focus would be on generating accessible diagrams.

Software tools & resources:

·         MathJax

·         MathJax A11y extension

·         Speech Rule Engine

·         Pandoc

·         BrailleR package



Mainly research papers – key conferences ICCHP and CSUN

Thesis of Dr. T.V. Raman, ACM Dissertation Award, Cornell University, 1994