Using computers to help the visually impaired
Baoxin Li is working in the areas of computer vision, multimedia processing and statistical methods in visual computing. His Career award provides more than $400,000 for research into technology to aid the visually impaired.
"We want to build a computer-based system to automatically create tactile graphics for people with visual disabilities," Li says. His idea is to use computer technology to allow a person with visual impairments to read text or view web site content in the privacy of their own homes and work spaces in the same way as people without sight impairments.
"We can develop a system so that people with visual impairments can have easy access from their laptops at home or in the lab, so they can do everything themselves," he says.
His research team is attempting to render representations of graphics usable by the visually impaired. One project is the development of software designed to "read" an image and render a tactile representation of that image.
Initially, Li is focusing on textbooks used by students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, commonly referred to as STEM courses. STEM materials are "heavy with diagrams and illustrations" presenting a challenge for sight-impaired students who must seek out services to assist them in comprehending the illustrations that are central to STEM studies."
The effort to aid STEM students will have a broad range of applications in the areas of computer vision and pattern-recognition. Li's group is collaborating with the Phoenix Foundation for the Blind, as well as ASU's Disability Resource Center and the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing.
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Arizona State University