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for the Blind

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Idea for Making Comic Books Accessible

Hey everyone. I've been looking for a way to read comics for some time now and have come across something interesting. It's called comicsML and it basically uses XML formatting to make digital comics describe themselves. Only problem is it was made in the early 2000s but work wasn't continued on it past a certain stage, although there is a sample document of a successful conversion with description.
The developer, Jason McIntosh, says on his website that he doesn't currently plan to continue work on comicsML but for anyone who's interested to run with it, no permission necessary. Unfortunately my programming skills are sadly limited/nonexistent, but I'm certain that this project can be made to work for all digital comic books where once you get one from a site that sells them you could put it on comicsML and it would scan and translate everything into a readable descriptive format. Given how much we've done so far, I'm sure this could be done! And perhaps it wouldn't even take that much work in the hands of a skilled programmer--as I've said there's already a sample comic in the documentation.
Here's the link to the main site where this is discussed:
http://jmac.org/projects/comics_ml/
Anyone who can help or knows anything about somewhere that could also help with this, please reply! Thanks so much and hopefully I'm not the only would-be blind comic nerd on here XD.

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Re: Idea for Making Comic Books Accessible



Ok so I'm not sure if the last post was submitted correctly, if yes than feel free to ignore this duplicate:
To Liz N: Yeah I know that he had said that there were settings for choosing different levels of description, from every detail to a brief overview which is great. Also I don't think the scan or the handwriting would be a problem since the pictures are describing themselves and based on McIntosh's discussion of searchable content:
"This markup would allow for searches with quite a bit of refinement, as the textual (and hence searchable) information about each strip would already exist in a hiearchy with implied levels of interest to a search engine. Strip titles and captions would probably have the most prominence, followed by dialogue, and then description."
And in the blind accessibility section:
"Since the most obvious way to make comics readable to blind computer users involves keeping an all-text version of the comic as accessible as the comic itself, so that software could locate it and pipe it through a text-to-speech device, it follows that keeping this text in a predictably structured format would let this software quickly pull out the comics' content without any extra parsing, thus allowing these readers to enjoy all fully marked-up comics without having to make any adjustments at all to their comics-reading programs."
So it sounds like all the content will work with this since the program recognizes both the images and the text components.
To wordsmithing: That would be great! I remember reading something a while back on bookshare that they weren't able to make comics accessible, but implementing comicsML I don't see how there could be much of an issue.
Thanks for the input and any more comments, ideas, future developments or anything else, please reply!
Jackie


bookshare and Idea for Making Comic Books Accessible



What a nifty idea!
Bookshare has experimented with volunteers who read picture descriptions into books. This is particularly fun when the books are for children. If I am a blind adult reading to a sighted child, I can read the description and the child may be able to follow along, seeing the pictures in a printed book.
Perhaps bookshare would like to partner with the folks involved.
I will forward the link to these messages to a member of the bookshare staff.
Congratulations on a well-thought-out creative idea.
Elizabeth


Re: Idea for Making Comic Books Accessible



This is really interesting -- thank you for the link! I'm assuming that the creator would want to provide her own descriptions to ensure that all of the nuances of the illustration come through. Not sure I would want to rely on a scan, knowing how inaccurate they can be, particularly with hand-lettered writing. But the potential to entice search engines with actual indexable content is a great inducement for comic creators to provide some of the underlying description. Very cool!


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