[Blindmath] accessible uml diagrams

Michael Whapples mwhapples at aim.com
Wed Apr 18 11:54:05 CDT 2012

Having faced using UML diagrams in my course which I have just 
completed, may be I have a few hints.

What I tended to end up using was descriptions of the diagrams the 
university produced and where I needed to produce diagrams I was allowed 
to submit a description. While this worked (I was able to complete the 
course successfully) I feel it probably was not the ideal solution. I 
say this for a few reasons: It may have worked for the small samples 
which were used within the course but it could easily become confusing 
for larger diagrams (even some of the course diagrams did get 
complicated to follow in just a description). I also felt there was a 
problem in dealing with descriptions of the visual diagram when I never 
actually dealt with an actual diagram, partly because I like having 
actual diagrams if I need to remember what shapes and placement is used 
and also as it felt a bit meaningless to describe at the visual level 
when I never dealt with one (IE. why couldn't I describe in terms of 
what the visual elements represent rather than the shapes which would be 
used). Another issue is that such a way of working will not intergrate 
well with others, the process of getting what I need and to put my 
descriptions into a normal diagram will take manual work.

I know some have mentioned using software tools which expose the UML 
structure in a tree view is a workable way, it certainly overcomes the 
working with others issues. Someone did mention a commercial tool (I 
think it was enterprise architect http://www.sparxsystems.com.au/ but 
please don't hold me to that) which was said to be accessible. I also 
think that some accessibility can be got with the opensource tools from 
the eclipse project http://www.eclipse.org but again I am not sure how 
far one really can get (at least with the eclipse tools they are free so 
even if they don't work no money has been spent on them).

There are various projects which I think are working on specific diagram 
types, which potentially could include UML. One such project is 

I hope some of this has been useful.

Michael Whapples
On 18/04/2012 16:57, Rose wrote:
> Hello,
> I am looking for a way to access and create UML diagrams directly by 
> students that are visually impaired.  I found an old post about the /
> "Technical Drawings Understanding for the Blind http://www.tedub.org 
> <http://www.tedub.org/>/"  but it seems to be a project that has 
> ended. Can anyone give me more information about products and/or 
> resources to help.
> Thanks,
> Rose

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