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About the project

SONAAR is a project funded by the European Commission under Application of web accessibility requirements in web-authoring tools and platforms by default (web access by default) Grant agreement LC-01409741 SONAAR.


Deliverables and results






Project context and objectives

Context and background

The amount of user-generated content available nowadays is a large part of the overall content on the web and rapidly increasing. Blogs, wikis, reviews on online shops and, foremost, social media services are examples of sources of user-generated content. Its reach is wider than that of the platform it is created in, with search results linking to user-generated content and with other users resharing the content to multiple platforms and services.

A large part of this content is images and videos - a consequence of the proliferation of mobile devices equipped with cameras. Fortunately, the major social network services have introduced features to help users create accessible content. However, while the accessibility of social network's interfaces is acceptable, most user-generated content is still inaccessible. On the one hand, the popular memes and GIFs still do not benefit from machine-generated text alternatives. On the other hand, social media users are not aware of the possibility and the benefits of creating text alternatives and, frequently, they don't know how to do it.

Specific objectives

SONAAR aims to prototype a mechanism capable of increasing the amount of accessible user-generated content available on social networks on mobile and desktop platforms. To achieve this goal SONAAR pursues specific objectives.

Facilitate authoring of accessible content

Several social media services already have features that make it possible to author accessible content. Facebook or Instagram can generate a text alternative for photos and users can change the automatic text alternative to improve its quality. While this is a good workflow for authoring accessible content it might still be improved. Most users do not know the characteristics of a good text alternative. We aim to explore a mechanism to classify the quality of text alternatives to incite users to improve them. For social networks that do not provide automatic text alternatives, SONAAR can facilitate the authoring process by suggesting concepts to include.

Deploy user-generated accessible content on mobile and web platforms

When a social network user shares content that has a text alternative to other social networks, the text alternative will be lost. When a user creates a text alternative for an image that is shared by different users, only the friends or followers of that user will benefit from the text alternative. SONAAR aims to create a mechanism to distribute an image's text alternative to all users of SONAAR. A service available on mobile devices and web browsers will uniquely identify an image and store that identification together with the user-generated text alternative. The same service will be used to search for text alternatives of images displayed to a user when browsing the web or using a mobile app. In this fashion, text alternatives created by one user will become available for other users of other platforms.

Ensure an accessible content authoring process

The content authoring process proposed in SONAAR needs to be independent of the social networks. This allows us to make it an accessible process, both in web and mobile platforms. To achieve this goal, SONAAR will collaborate with end-users to understand what are the main challenges that users with and without disabilities face when creating accessible content for social networks. We will also collaborate to understand the challenges faced by users with disabilities when consuming image-based content on social media.

Engage users in the production of accessible content

Most end-users are still unaware of the existence of mechanisms to author accessible content. Likewise, they are oblivious to the benefits of providing text alternatives. SONAAR will aim to disseminate this knowledge to social network users. By increasing awareness to the benefits of accessible content (e.g. text alternatives are essential for blind users but can be very important to users with limited cognitive abilities or users who have their vision occupied in another task) it will be easier to educate users to properly create accessible content.

Consortium and contact

SONAAR is being developed by a team from the Universidade de Lisboa, Faculdade de Ciências. The research work is being conducted at LASIGE, in the scope of the Accessibility and Ageing research line.

The team is comprised by Carlos Duarte (PhD, principal investigator), Tiago Guerreiro (PhD), Letícia Seixas (PhD), Luís Carriço (PhD), José Coelho (PhD), João Guerreiro (PhD), André Rodrigues (PhD), André Santos (MSc) and João Vicente (MSc).

Contact us at sonaar@fc.ul.pt