Chieko Asakawa

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Biography for Chieko Asakawa*

Chieko Asakawa is responsible for the research and development of IBM software and applications that significantly improve web accessibility for the visually impaired and others with special needs. Her contributions to the field of accessibility research include making the internet and other web resources available to the visually impaired via PCs by automatically converting text and icons on the screen to voice. She was a key technical leader in the development of the IBM Home Page Reader (HPR), which allows people to surf the web using numeric keypads instead of a mouse. It is now produced in eleven languages and distributed worldwide.

Asakawa-san is currently an Accessibility Designer, supporting web designers and developers in creating more accessible content. Her work uses disability simulation and problem visualization features to help web designers and developers, understand accessibility issues on their web-designed pages at a glance. She is also researching how the visually impaired can access and represent various types of visual information non-visually using the hearing and touch senses.

Asakawa-san developed a digital Braille system and three key applications for the visually impaired, including the Braille Editing System (BES), which allows users to easily input and edit Braille using an ordinary keyboard and monitor. She also developed the Braille Dictionary System and the IBM Braille Forum Network. Asakawa-san promoted the electronic distribution of Braille materials over the IBM Braille Forum Network in collaboration with Braille libraries and schools for the visually impaired in Japan.

Prior to assuming her current role in 2000, Asakawa-san held research and development positions at the IBM Tokyo Research Lab, developing educational systems and user interfaces. Her inventions have been recognized in 10 patents. She has contributed to numerous technical journals and papers. She joined IBM in 1985 and is a member of the IBM Academy of Technology.

Asakawa-san teaches at Tsukuba Engineering College, focusing on human interface issues. She is a member of the Institute of Electronics, Information and Communication Engineers of Japan; the Information Processing Society of Japan and the Association for Computing Machinery. She holds a literature degree from Ottemonn University.

* Biographical information current as of June 2003