Profile-based web document delivery

This work originated by considering the needs of visually impaired users but may have wider application. A profile captures some key descriptors or preferences of a user and their browsing device. Individual users may maintain any number of profiles which they can edit for use in different situations, for different tasks or with different devices. A profile is described in terms of essentiality and proficiency. Essentiality is used to control the quantity of information that is transmitted and proficiency is used to control the format. Various levels of essentiality are introduced into a document by the technique known as microformatting. Proficiency (for the visually impaired) includes a description of minimum acceptable font size, preferred font face and preferred text and background colours. A key feature of the proficiency profile is the accessibility component which captures the user's tolerance of accessibility issues in a document, for example the presence of images or the markup of tables. The document delivery tool works as a kind of filter to reduce the content to the level of essentiality requested, to make the various presentation changes and to warn of accessibility issues as specified in the user's profile. Encouraging preliminary results have been obtained from testing the prototype with subjects from the local RNIB college.