THE DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT OF AN ONLINE MULTIMEDIA LANGUAGE ASSISTANT FOR WEB USERS WITH DYSLEXIA
Cognitive processing of written language is a key challenge for people with Learning Difficulties in general and Dyslexia in particular. In this paper, we describe the design and development of a browser plug-in to facilitate access to multimedia representations of Arabic words in web content. The Multimedia Dictionary (MMD) provides access to audio of spoken pronunciation of a selected word, displays a representative static image, an animated representation, and a video clip describing the meaning of Arabic web content. MMD is comprised of a browser add-on tool that links words to their multimedia representations such as video, audio, animation and static images. These representations provide a convenient and efficient way of supporting individuals with dyslexia in acquiring the meaning of the word in a format that is understandable and accessible to their way of thinking.
The MMD iterative design cycles involved close collaboration with target user populations and specialists in Specific Learning Difficulties. The proposed architecture involved the design and implement of a web-based multimedia dictionary tool for language assistance for people with reading disabilities. The one-click access provided by the browser add-on was to enhance the accessibility of Arabic web content and to make written words more comprehensible to them by offering the representation of the word in multiple modalities. In the User Centered Design approach of our development cycles, we take in consideration all the design considerations that we gathered from qualitative studies that we conducted with our target user population (e.g. interviews and questionnaires) and observational studies that we conducted in our visits to LD specialists in local schools. We aimed for accessible and simple design, and tried to avoid using too many words in our design and used visual icons. The MMD architecture and its interaction design are described and the advantages of such language assistance for people with dyslexia are discussed.