We’ve announced some new add-ins for Microsoft Office that will help education users publish their learning resources with added accessibility – making them more accessible to more learners, specifically those with visual and hearing impairments.
Captioning add-in for PowerPoint to add captions to video and audio
One is an add in for PowerPoint which enables the addition of closed captions to any embedded video and audio files used in a presentation, ensuring that students who have hearing impairments don’t miss out. It allows you to either manually add your own captions, or by importing an existing industry standard Timed Text Mark-up Language (TTML) file. With STAMP, people who already work with captioned video and audio files associated with TTML files can import them directly into their presentations. For people who don’t have access to an existing TTML file, but still need to create captions (or adjust imported captions), STAMP provides a simple caption editor within PowerPoint 2010. Captions within STAMP are saved with the file or can be exported for use by others.
The other way that STAMP could be used is to add English subtitles to a foreign language video (or translate an English video into another language), which might be a great technique for languages teachers.
The STAMP add-in is for Office 2010. And I discovered the acronym STAMP stands for Subtitling Add-In for Microsoft PowerPoint
Making talks books with Word, with the DAISY Add-in for Office
The DAISY Consortium was set up to help those with visual impairment (or ‘print disabilities’) to access digital content easily, and enhance their use of the materials. We’ve just updated the DAISY Word plug-in, which allows Word documents to be translated into DAISY XML – a globally accepted standard for digital talking books (eg it’s used by Vision Australia’s Information Library Service).
DAISY stands for Digital Accessible Information System, which lets you work with digital content in many ways, synchronising audio with display output, generating braille versions, or allowing text to speech conversion. It is more powerful than simply creating an audio file (eg an .mp3) – unlike analogue talking books, an important feature of DAISY books is easy and rapid navigation. A book can be navigated by such elements as sentence, paragraph, page (including specific page numbers) and various heading levels. It is also possible to fast forward or rewind and to jump back and forth by time increments when using the audio component. Depending on the playback equipment being used, a book can be searched for specific words. The user can also place Bookmarks at relevant points and jump to them easily.
The ‘Save as Daisy’ add-in for Word lets users of Microsoft Word 2003-2010 convert Word files to the Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) format – accessible multimedia formats for people unable to read print. Some of these formats include synchronized text and MP3 audio that can be played directly within Windows 7 or DAISY XML, which works with compatible software readers and talking book/braille reading devices.
Other accessibility features in Office
Here are a few of the other Office 2010 features that help people create and consume all kinds of accessible content:
- An accessibility checker (like a spelling checker, but for accessibility) as a feature of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint that provides step-by-step instructions for how to correct accessibility errors.
- An on-the-fly translation feature called Mini Translator, which allows you to translate single words or many paragraphs simply by hovering over the text that you want to translate. Mini Translator also includes the ability to speak that text using Microsoft’s Text-to-Speech (TTS) engine.
- A Full Screen Reading view that is optimized for reading a document on the computer screen. In Full Screen Reading view, you also have the option of seeing the document as it would appear on a printed page.