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"aLipi" means without-alphabet or text/print-impaired (non-literates/low-literates).

lipi means alphabet, letter, writing or script in Sanskrit. The "a" sound as a prefix is mostly used as negation in Sanskrit and many Indian languages. We also use the phrase "aLipi - God's own content" to present re-narration as a suitable method to provide content accessibility for all.


Over 10% of Indian population(120 million) have accessed Internet by December 2011 where 90% of those 10% are from urban areas [iamai]. However, Mobile communications, has reached 900 million Indians in 10 years. By the proliferation of mobile devices in remote areas [iamai] and the smart phones becoming affordable [aakash], Internet access by rural agricultural and pastoral nomads is becoming a reality. While Internet accessibility groups have developed authoring guidelines and standards for "disabled" Internet users, they do assume that such a user is a (considerably) literate person. What would it be to provision Internet accessibility to non-literates?

So, in addition to the visually handicapped, the other significant part of the entire population, like the insufficiently literate are also a large target community in developing countries like India, for provisioning screen reading of content. However, This segment would benefit from a visually rich rendition of a site while "reading out" the content. And it is important to address this segment now.


aLipi is an investigation into creating and managing locally relevant accessible content for communities, this is a web-accessibility project which allows users to re-narrate the Web pages or elements, and to access other users' re-narrations. Thus it changes access to web-content in ways that are relevant for any user, but may be particularly useful to text-impaired users and others who are lost in translation.


With main objectives being, to provide an open source accessibility standards-conforming Web 2.0 development platform for content and data management on the Web that reflects on experience of both visually handicapped and the rural/semi-literate.

We consider the accessibility of Web content to as many people as possible to be very significant. Automatic translation or systematic transformations by dedicated persons/machines is not very feasible. This is especially true when contextualization comes into play.

Fortunately, there are many Netizens who are very capable to perform these tasks. They can identify and articulate content in alternate and in an appropriate manner – both in terms of meaning and in form.

Socially networked uses of collaborative web design can lead to potentially infinite “re-narrations” of web resources. The new architecture we propose builds on rich ontological structures shared across social networks created in a distributed, de-centralized manner, used with browser plug-ins and server-supported web applications. We build on recent advances in the architecture of Semantic Web; distributed active social networks and Ontology servers; browser based editors for re-narrations, HTML5, Web 2.0, browser extensibility, smart mobiles.


The problem addressed by this project, is the issue of web-accessibility for the text-impaired in the Web 2.0 era. We introduce the idea of re-narration as the basis for ”designing for inclusion.” In this model a web page or even an element of a web is rewritten, i.e., re-narrated, to make it accessible to a target audience of users in a completely decentralized way. A simple way to formalize re-narration is, Transformation on web elements. Using this formalization, we indicate how re-narration is a way of realizing the social semantic web.


Following this social semantic web model, that adds a few tags to identify certain annotations as re-narrations, identify the target community for the re-narration and also the original object that is being re-narrated, using a combination of url and xpaths, these web documents can then be indexed by services that aid the re-narration activities and the recommendation process to help choose the most suitable narration for an aLipi user.

Towards this is - "re-narration Web". It is a generic Web-framework for developing and rendering narratives that assist in accessing Web-content across cultural boundaries. Re-narration Web is therefore about Web-accessibility for digital Inclusion or e-inclusion.

Alipi web framework is supported by a set of tools that demonstrates the feasibility of the re-narration web. is a site that people can use to re-narrate and to also view available alternative narratives, with out having to install any browser extensions. These user utility tools are 1) Authoring tool for narrators and 2) Rendition tool for the target user to view the narratives.

The Authoring Tool

This tool allows a user to re-narrate a webpage of choice. It makes the page content(sub-trees/terms in a page) editable by giving the user the possibility to replace a text content with text and/or provide an audio description of it. Replace an image with another image, more suitable for a given target. For example, While cabs are yellow in New York City but black in London,indicates the style of the re-narration. A summary, translation etc, indicates the language of the re-narration, the geo-graphical localization of the targeted community.

The Rendition Tool

This tool allows a user to view a list of alternative narratives available for a target, render the page using a selected mashup of available narratives for the target's interest for terms/sub-trees/elements at a xpath-indicated fragment of the page.

Plugin and Mobile App

Alipi Firefox add-on helps in indicating to a user when alternative narratives are available for a url. In the future, this can be configured to indicate only if narratives are available that are suitable for the user. An Android browser app allows a mobile user to select a suitable narrative if available. The initial version of Alipi browser extension is implemented as a Firefox plugin alipi.xpi.

This plugin supports notifying the user of available alternative narratives for a given url, re-rendition of the page using a set of narratives and authoring of re-narration of a web page.


Try it! On a Firefox. Sites can also integrate it: See Alipi link on Raika BCP page. A directory of links with re-narrations is at

See ReNarrationAct for the showcase project associating the delivery of law relating to domestic workers on a mobile phone, through re-narrations.

We mocked up how a web-site could be played as a slide-show here. The idea behind this slide-show is explained here.

We also took up minimum wages law for domestic workers as an use case scenario. With the help of lawyers and domestic workers we re-narrated the page. After re-narration it could be clearly seen that more domestic workers could understand the law better now.


Current code-base, development status at Alipi git-hub

August 2011 Janastu/Servelots report describes the development of alipi.


alipi / research and development is open source, and is seeking developers, narrators, designers and Internet interest groups to help with development, demonstration and formalization so that an effective consolidation of architecture, processes and recommendations can evolve over the next few of years.

Currently we have two mailing lists:

alipi-dev @ for developers

alipi-users @ for users

We also are live on #alipi at

More updates

and some outdates. And some News clippings of Interest