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Eurographics UK

The 13th Annual Eurographics Conference was held at Loughborough on 29-30 March 1995, preceded by a day of tutorials. There was a strong multimedia theme in many of the papers and the tutorials.

The keynote speaker at the conference was Tom Wesley from Bradford who presented a paper entitled 'Graphics are Wonderful - but what about the Blind?'. This highlighted the problems the 'print' disabled have with accessing electronic data, particularly now Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) are becoming more prevalent. Hypermedia documents can be especially difficult to access, as alternatives are necessary for graphical data and visually oriented links. He described some of the work that is being done to combat these problems by the Communication and Access to Information for People with Special Needs (CAPS) project, and particularly the usefulness of SGML in providing standardised structured documents that can be converted into a form usable by the vision impaired.

Jim Alty, Head of Computer Studies at the University of Loughborough, presented a very interesting and entertaining tutorial on Multimedia Interface Design, which placed particular emphasis on how sound could be used in novel ways. It looked at research that has been done into how to map various types of data into sound and some of the possible benefits. Good use of sound can considerably enhance a multimedia presentation. A visually complex screen can lead to 'cognitive overload', but since the brain is designed to receive and process information from more than one channel simultaneously, delivering some of the information by a different channel, such as sound, can help a great deal. Also delivering the same information using more than one channel can make an application easier to use, and enhance learning. A simple example is a 'beep' when an error message occurs, or a voice reading text that is being displayed.

Overall a wide range of graphical and multimedia applications were covered at the conference from Graphic Design for Ceramic Tiles to Visualization for Prosthetic Heart Valves, providing a varied and interesting few days.