Friday, November 03, 2006
2:00 PM
CSB 209
Richard Ladner
U. Washington
Automating Tactile Graphics Translation---Opening a Door to Science and Engineering for Blind Students
Blind students and professionals in science and engineering have relatively easy access to the text in books and articles using scanners, optical character recognition, speech synthesis, and other technologies. What they do not have easy access to is mathematical formulas and figures. Great strides have been made recently by the Infty project, from Kyushu University in Japan , that enables images of math formulas to be translated into Latex. Another automatic translation system can then translate the Latex into a mathematical form of Braille. The Tactile Graphics Project at the University of Washington has developed a new technology for finding text in images and replacing the text with Braille. This is a major step in translating technical images into a tactile form. Combining this new technology with standard computer applications it has created a workflow that enables an entire book of figures to be translated at one time. In the talk I will give demonstrations of our translation techniques that enable blind students to enter science and engineering fields and have successful careers as professionals. Some of the computer science behind these new technologies will also be discussed.

Bio: Richard E. Ladner, Boeing Professor in Computer Science and Engineering, graduated from St. Mary's College of California with a B.S. in 1965 and received a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of California , Berkeley in 1971, at which time he joined the faculty of the University of Washington . In addition to his appointment in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, he is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and in the Department of Linguistics.

He has a number of research interests, most of them in theoretical computer science and access technology. He is currently investigating design and analysis of algorithms, cache performance of algorithms, network algorithms for media-on-demand, data compression algorithms, and access technology for disabled persons. He has continuing interests in automata based computational complexity theory and distributed computing.

He has supervised or co-supervised seventeen students on their Ph.D. dissertations and six on their M.S. theses. He has supervised numerous undergraduate research projects and coordinates the Undergraduate Research Seminar in CSE. Since 1994, as part of the DO-IT Project, he has held a one week summer workshop for disabled high school students encouraging them to pursue college programs and careers in science, mathematics, and engineering.

He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1985-86 and a Fulbright Scholar in 1993. He has served as an Area Editor for the Journal of the Association of Computing Machinery, Editor for SIAM Journal on Computing, and an Associate Editor of the Journal of Computer and System Sciences. He is currently on the Editorial Board for Theory of Computing Systems. He has served as Pacific Region Representative on the Council of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM). He is currently Chair of the ACM Special Interest Group in Algorithms and Computation Theory (SIGACT). He is a Fellow of the ACM. He is a recipient of the 2004 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM).