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School of Computer Science

Research Projects

My main research area lies in the field of Web Accessibility. My current focus is concerned with how the Web, which is the world’s largest repository of information, can be made easily accessible to all people regardless of ability. This includes people with a disability and the elderly.

Senior Citizens On The Web 2.0 (SCWeb2)

Senior Citizens On The Web 2.0 (SCWeb2) developed a profound understanding of ageing users cognition and perception of Web 2.0 based information in order to better understand the nature of their interaction. This was achieved through using a combination of galvanic skin response (GSR) measurements and eye tracking data to identify which areas of a page caused the user most stress. From these results a tool was developed that assisted users in learning how to interact with Web 2.0 content, creating a less frustrating, more enjoyable Web experience.

Principle Investigator:
Dr. Simon Harper
Named Research Associates:
Darren Lunn
Funding Body:
Leverhulme Trust (Grant Reference: F/00 120/BL)
Duration:
January 2009 — April 2011
Website:
http://wel.cs.manchester.ac.uk/research/scweb2/

Structural-Semantics for Accessibility and Device Independence (SADIe)

Structural-Semantics for Accessibility and Device Independence (SADIe) was a project that used the structure of web pages to modify the content of the page in order to make the page more accessible to visually impaired users by using semantic transcoding. There have been many attempts to transcode Web pages so that information is more accessible to visually impaired users. However, previous methods have revolved around heuristics, which are brittle and often result in undesired output, or semantics, which are accurate yet time consuming as all pages need to be annotated. The SADIe project investigated a hybrid solution that was as accurate as semantic transcoding yet as flexible as heuristic-based transcoding. The method involved annotating the cascading style sheets (CSS) of a website so that a single annotation propagated through to all pages that belonged to the website. The annotations allowed transcoding to take place that was of benefit to users and improved access to content for visually impaired Web users.

Principle Investigator:
Dr. Simon Harper and Sean Bechhofer
Doctoral Student:
Darren Lunn
Funding Body:
The University of Manchester (Pilot Study)
Duration:
April 2005 — January 2009
Website:
http://wel.cs.manchester.ac.uk/research/sadie/

Coping-Strategy Analysis to Support Transcoding Algorithms (CASTA)

Developed as part of the SADIe project, CASTA improved access to complex Web content for visually impaired users through an understanding of the behavioural strategies employed when interacting with the Web. This was achieved by obtaining large volumes of qualitative data from observational studies of visually impaired users. This, coupled with data from independent sources, demonstrated that behavioural strategies could be defined and characterised as a series of interaction patterns. The behavioural patterns identified from the observational studies were used to develop transcoding that improved access to Web content for visually impaired users.

Principle Investigator:
Dr. Simon Harper and Sean Bechhofer
Doctoral Student:
Darren Lunn
Funding Body:
The University of Manchester (Pilot Study)
Duration:
September 2006 — January 2009
Website:
http://wel.cs.manchester.ac.uk/research/sadie/