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Bio
How can information technology help improve quality of life for all of us? How can we easily access products and information without using the sense of vision to communicate and interact? What kind of interface will adapt to user needs? Chieko Asakawa, blind since the age of fourteen and now an expert in accessibility research, is working on answering these questions. Chieko has been instrumental in furthering accessibility research and development for the past three decades. Her early digital Braille work in the 1980s is still helping the blind community in Japan to access digital Braille books. In 1997, her work on the groundbreaking voice browser -- IBM Home Page Reader, which was made available in Japan, U.S., Europe and Asia -- opened up the Web and its information resources to the blind. Its interface technology has been widely adopted by other voice browsers. As visual user interface and multimedia content have become increasingly popular on the Internet, Chieko and her team developed a number of pioneering technologies to help visually impaired people enjoy the benefits of these advances. Disability simulator called aDesigner helps Web designers identify potential design issues to make their websites more user-friendly to all. For the first time, aiBrowser helps visually impaired users to access streaming video, animation and other visual online content. Accessibility Tools Framework offers standardized design and application programming interfaces, allowing developers to create accessibility tools and applications easily and cost effectively. Contribution of these technologies and the framework to the open source community, Eclipse Foundation, have helped stimulate accessibility software innovation.