One of the projects I’ve been learning about while in Bangalore is Alipi, which is being developed by Janastu. Alipi is a Web accessibility project with a difference: it allows users to renarrate the Web, explaining Web content in ways that are more relevant and accessible for print-impaired communities. You can see a demonstration here.

Most Web accessibility projects aim to change the form of websites, for example by making the text bigger, adding text-to-speech capabilities, or adding captions to images. These projects are valuable and important, and help to make the Web more diverse by allowing people with disabilities to participate and contribute. In India the challenge is slightly different.

The population here, as in the West, includes a significant proportion of people who are not able to use sites that have not been designed with accessibility in mind. However, a far greater proportion of those excluded cannot access the Web for other reasons: because they don’t have the economic resources, or because they can’t read, or can’t read English, and there are few sites available in their first language.

Alipi addresses this latter part of problem. The project allows users to reinterpret content in ways that are relevant to their community, changing the content as well as the form. As well as providing translations in text or audio, users can add commentary and bring attention to parts of a site that are particularly important to their communities.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be playing around with the Alipi Firefox plug-in (which is still very much in beta, from what I can tell) and learning more about what Alipi can do and how it might be useful. I’ll be (mostly) hosting my explorations and renarrations over on my Alipi blog.

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