Accessible Media Reaches New Heights: CNIB teams up with artists from MaRS to deliver accessible rich media interactive vision health information



    TORONTO, Sept. 26 /CNW/ - September 23 to 29 is International AMD
(age-related macular degeneration) Week and CNIB has teamed up with medical
artists from the MaRS Discovery District to deliver a health information
website like no other. The AMD Challenge uses plain language and engaging
animations to explain AMD, the leading cause of vision loss among older
Canadians.
    The AMD Challenge is part of CNIB's overall aim to increase public
awareness of vision health issues and promote eye health. As an interactive
online tool, the site is geared toward the increasing number of Canadians who
turn to the Internet for health information.
    "Although we reach the public through many different channels, we're very
much aware of the growing importance of eHealth resources. The AMD Challenge
is one strong example of our commitment to making vision health resources
available to the greatest number of Canadians," says Lesley Wilmot, Director,
Communications, CNIB.
    The AMD Challenge, sponsored by AMD Alliance International, stands apart
from most other online eHealth websites, by using easy to understand language
and complementary pictures to quickly convey key concepts.
    "Online descriptions of common eye conditions often use complex language
and highly detailed medical images. With the use of plain language and
friendly animations, the site presents health information in a way that is
engaging and interesting to a wider audience," says Don Lawrence, Web Manager,
CNIB.
    The AMD Challenge was designed and illustrated in cartoon style by
medical artists Sonya Amin, Jason Sharpe and Eddy Xuan, founders of AXS
Biomedical Animation Studio, which creates innovative visual communications
solutions for the health sciences industry.
    "People respond well to cartoons," says Amin. "Drawing anatomy in a
cartoon style reduces the 'yuck factor' and makes the subjects more accessible
to the average person."
    The AMD Challenge is also fully compatible with special software
applications called "screen readers" which read aloud the content displayed on
a computer screen. It was designed so that a screen reader can "speak" the
text and the special embedded descriptions for each picture and animation.
Navigation instructions are also fed to the screen reader, allowing users to
move back and forth through the pages of the site and to highlight text and
pictures of interest.
    Embedding this degree of accessible functionality is no small feat.
Technology is still catching up to the need for accessible rich media (e.g.
animations) on the Internet; much online content either cannot be read or is
misinterpreted by screen reader software. AXS Studio worked closely with CNIB
developers to overcome technical hurdles and ensure The AMD Challenge would be
accessible to all users.
    The AMD Challenge can be accessed in a web browser at the following
address: http://www.cnib.ca/challenge.

    About CNIB
    ----------
    CNIB is a nationwide, community-based, registered charity committed to
research, public education and vision health for all Canadians. CNIB provides
the services and support necessary for people to enjoy a good quality of life
while living with vision loss. To learn more, visit www.cnib.ca or call
1-800-563-2642.

    About AXS Studio
    ----------------
    AXS Biomedical Animation Studio communicates concepts in science and
medicine through animation and illustration. The studio is located in the MaRS
Discovery District in Toronto www.marsdd.com.




For further information:

For further information: Jessica Parrales, Coordinator, Communications,
CNIB, Tel: (416) 486-2500 x7570, Email: jessica.parrales@cnib.ca; Jason
Sharpe, Creative Director, AXS Studio, Tel: (416) 673-6698, Email:
jason.sharpe@axs3d.com


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