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Information on the NII is not just for Viewing!

T. V. Raman
Digital Equipment Corp.
Cambridge, MA 02139
Voice-Mail: 1 (617) 621-6637
Email: raman@crl.dec.com
WWW: http://www.cs.cornell.edu/Info/People/raman/raman.html


The electronic information highway exploits the power of computer mediated communication to provide wide-spread access to large amounts of information. Using the computer -an information processor- as an intermediary in information exchange has a significant advantage when providing equal access to people with disparate capabilities. The computer can display the information in a manner best suited to an individual's needs. Use of structurally rich, display-independent electronic encodings is a prerequisite in enabling such universal access.

The last 18 months have seen an explosive growth in the amount of information accessible on the World Wide Web (WWW) -a hypertext system linking vast repositories of information. When discussing the question of ensuring accessibility of this resource, attention has focused on the development of accessible WWW clients. However, such clients in themselves will not ensure accessibility; Information available on the WWW that is encoded using visual-presentation based formats, e.g., bitmap images (GIFs), Postscript and PDF (Portable Document Format), will continue to remain mostly inaccessible. This is because presentation-based encodings assume that the information will only be viewed on a visual display and therefore capture a minimal amount of structural information.

This paper outlines the challenges to be overcome by information providers on the NII to ensure universal accessibility of the services they offer.

TV Raman
Fri Mar 10 11:34:09 EST 1995