Generating Audio-Tactile and Web-Accessible SVG Graphics- Year 2

Bios & Handouts

Scheduled at 2:15pm in Standley II Lab on Wednesday November, 15.



  • John Gardner, Prof., ViewPlus
  • Volker Sorge, Dr., Progressive Accessibility Solutions, Ltd

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 2-hr
  • Format: Lab
  • Expertise Level: Intermediate
  • Type of session: General Conference


We demonstrate automatic creation of accessible SVG diagrams for chemistry, statistics, and electric circuits with rich descriptions. We show how these diagrams can be embossed for audio-tactile reading or embedded into web content to be interactively explored in a browser with synchronized speech, highlighting, and magnification.


Diagrams are ubiquitous in STEM literature and teaching materials. Since they frequently need to be understood in detail, their precise description is often very difficult. Making a single diagram fully accessible can require a major investment of staff time. Last year we presented software that allows the automatic generation of accessible chemical diagrams. We now present extensions to other STEM subjects, in particular statistics and electric circuits. The software generates fully described diagrams as SVG graphics from a range of data formats, including bitmap images, requiring only minimal human intervention or improvements. The resulting images can be embossed for audio-tactile reading or embedded into web content to be interactively explored using the DIAGcess web front end.

In our lab session participants will get hands-on experience on * the automatic creation software, * IVEO Player software for reading audio-tactile graphics * the DIAGcess web explorer.


  1. Automatic generation of audio-tactile accessible diagrams
  2. Creation of web content with universally accessible, interactive SVG diagrams
  3. Latest features of the IVEO software suite

Disability Areas

accessible design, Vision

Topic Areas

Alternate Format, Assistive Technology, Including Accessibility in Curriculum, Information Resources, Information Technology, Uncategorized, Web/Media Access

Speaker Bio(s)

John Gardner

John Gardner received a PhD in physics from the University of Illinois. He has been a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania and Oregon State University. He has also held visiting positions at the Technical University of Munich, University of Warwick, Imperial College, Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, University of Stuttgart, and the University of Konstanz. Oregon State was his home for 30 years as an active faculty member and where he has been Professor Emeritus since 2003. He is known as an expert on point defects in solids and several fields of experimental solid state physics. He lost his sight unexpectedly in 1988 and became interested in accessibility of complex information, including math and graphics. In 1996 he founded ViewPlus Technologies, which has grown into a multi-million dollar company producing information-access hardware and software. ViewPlus is the leading manufacturer of tactile graphics and braille embossers in the world. He has received numerous awards and has given invited presentations on both physics and information accessibility at universities and conferences on five continents.

Volker Sorge

Volker heads the Scientific Document Analysis Groups at Birmingham University and is Managing Director of Progressive Accessibility Solutions, a company concentrating on assistive technologies for STEM content. He is working primarily on diagram recognition, mathematical document analysis and handwriting recognition. Practical applications of his research includes making scientific content accessible with a particular focus on Web technologies and eBooks. He works as a Visiting Scientist with Google on math integration into ChromeVox. He is a member of the MathJax consortium responsible for the integration of accessible rendering of mathematical formulas on the web. With his startup company he is building accessibility solutions that exploit image recognition technology to generate accessible STEM diagrams.