Creating Barrier-Free, Broadband Learning Environments

Final Report

Phase Deliverables

The technical objectives or deliverables for each phase of the project as described in the Project Agreement are listed below. Please describe the actual achievement for each phase in terms of the deliverables (original or as amended). Please include a description of any deliverables which were added during the project.

Objective/ Deliverable Actual Achievement with Comments
Phase 1 Administrative System  
1.   Deliverables:
Administrative Reporting System
An administrative reporting system was set up using password protected on-line forms allowing partners to report progress and submit time sheets. An email listserve was set up to facilitate ongoing communication between all partners. The web domain name was obtained, and is being used for the project website. Regular face-to-face meetings between project partners were carried out, as well as email updates and phone and video conferences.
2.  Communication System
Phase 2. Specifications   
3. Functional Specifications Detailed Functional and Technical Specifications were developed during the second phase of the project. These documents were posted on the project website ( The Functional Specification was drafted over the course of many meetings, in consultation with representatives of the various target users of the deliverables of this project. The Technical Specification was drafted through a number of meetings of the technical team. The Functional and Technical Specifications were used to develop an Implementation Plan which was continually updated throughout the progress of the project.
4. Technical Specifications
5. Detailed Implementation Plan
6. Detailed Evaluation Plan
Phase 3 Iterative Development 1  
7. Deliverables:
Target Curriculum
In this phase, target curriculum was identified. Two video series were selected, one physics series (“A World in Motion”, Senior Science, 47 episodes, 30 minutes each) and one life skills series (“Room for Five”, Language Arts, 8 episodes, 30 minutes each). Various digitization formats were evaluated, and a balance between resolution and compression was selected to allow transmission over equipment available to the test sites with enough quality and resolution to allow modeling of advanced captioning and descriptive video. The material was cleared for copyright, and digitized. In addition to this deliverable, work on the Technical Specification and Implementation Plan continued, and work began on the technical deliverables.
Phase 4. Iterative Developments 2   
8. Deliverables:
XML Schema/DTD
Three XML Schemas//Document Type Definitions were developed in completion of this deliverable (copies of the DTDs are included in Appendix B):
This DTD was designed for the markup of the verbatim text caption, to encode the timing of the captions, and to allow for enhancement of the content with hyperlinks to supplementary information. The schema also incorporates a mechanism for embedding a navigational structure into the caption, and encoding speaker identification.
This DTD identifies the structure of an assembly object, which is a collection of various media object references. The DTD includes duration information, and references to the metadata for the various media elements.
This DTD encapsulates the learner’s content preferences, including the selection and presentation of text captions, audio description, annotations, and on-screen presentation of navigational information, and user settings.
  Phase 5. Iterative Developments 3 
The deliverables of Caption Overlay Tool, Video Description Tool and Caption Markup were combined into a single stand alone application, the Authoring Tool, which provided both caption and video description functionalities. Originally, we intended to incorporate the Captioning and Video Description technology into existing multimedia and captioning tools (Creator, by Expresto, and VoiceWriter by Haylea), however user evaluations of these tools led to the recommendation that we create a stand-alone tool with a simplified interface. The design of the Authoring Tool began in Phase 4, and implementation was completed in Phase 5. The Viewer/Browser was implemented as a standalone application referred to as the Player. The User Preference System was actually designed to function as a Preference System used by both the Authoring Tool and the Player. It encodes the learner’s content preferences as XML according to the schema described above, and specified in Appendix B. Both the learner style preferences and the author styles are recorded recorded according the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) specification.
9. Caption Overlay Tool
10. Video Description Tool
11. User Preference System
12. Database for Learning Objects
13. Viewer/Browser
14. SMIL Compatibility
15. Caption Markup
Phase 6. Implementation   
The Core Software Library was designed during Phase 5, and implementation was completed during Phase 6. The core is a foundation for other aspects of the project including the Player, the Authoring Tool, and the Repository. The core provides a means of reading, writing, and editing the various XML files used to describe the content of the presentation. In essence, the core code provides a set of Java objects for manipulation the XML. The Preferences System was not converted to a standalone application. It was implemented as a library used by both the Authoring Tool and the Player. The details are described above, in the description of Phase 5 deliverables. The ASL Video deliverable was expanded in order to help determine how broadband systems can help to overcome some of the problems of traditional broadcast ASL translation. An additional partner, MarbleMedia, was added. A series of American Sign Language (ASL) videos were produced that addressed various approaches to dealing with these challenges, and a new method of providing equivalent information was developed following extensive user input. Three 10 minute segments were created incorporating feedback from several iterative revisions.
16. Create Core Software Library
 17. ASL Videos
18. Adjust Preference system for stand-alone
19. Add additional player interface features
20. Convert authoring tool to stand-alone
21. Descriptive Video Pilot Curriculum  
22. Authoring Tool training
Phase 7. Evaluation
Further iterative formative evaluations and summative evaluations of the tools were performed. The results are reflected in the evaluation report.
23. Integrated Curriculum Pilot
24. Evaluations
25. Evaluation of Revised System
Phase 8. Adjustment & Dissemination  
The tools and technologies developed in earlier phases underwent revisions and refinements based on feedback received from the evaluation team. The project results were presented at a large number of conferences, workshops and interoperability meetings. A number of peer reviewed papers were published and two 1/2 hour TV segments were produced to air over CLT.
25. Completed Data Anaylsis
26. Modified Tools
27. Modified Curriculum
28. Dissemination
29. Final Report


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