Saturday, June 17, 2006

Accessibility Problem

Today, i read in DetikInet that Roberto Perez de Paz from Cuba receive his software engineering degree even though he is fully blind. This is a wonderfull example for encouraging people, since many people will have difficulties to work if they can't see anything, but Roberto has managed to encounter those problems and he has got his degree. Luckily, there are some company that tries to solve this problems by making a research and developing products which can be used by sight-impaired (or fully blind) people to continue their work by using their tool, for example, Text-To-Speech module, braille reader, and also screen magnifier.

One of those product is Supernova, made by Dolphin Oceanic Ltd. This application consists of magnification, speech & Braille reader for Windows platform. They have worked very hard with Microsoft to produce this application and make it compatible with Windows (that's the sad news. No Linux version up to now). It was nice application and i have tried this application, since it is being used by my project (OWG project). Although it wasn't the best application (since it cannot recognize all of the components being used in my project, but for overall usage, this application is adequate enough). One more thing that i kindda dislike from this application is the resources being used is so high. Your computer will be slower than before when you start the application, but when you close it, it will be faster again.

FYI, my project that i'm working up to now is called OWG Project (Onderwijs WerkGroep - Education Work Group). OWG project is a desktop-based educational application that was built to help visual and hearing impaired childrens to learn using computers as their tools. It consists of eleven modules which are categorized for learning alphabets, words, typing, basic arithmetic such as decimal numbers, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division in a fun and friendly environment. It has a text-to-speech and also highlighting features to provide both visual and audio feedback to the students. There are two parts of this module, which is teacher and students part. Teacher will be able to set up time limit, number of exercises, type of exercises and settings to fit each pupils' conditions. This is a great project, but up to now, it's only available in Dutch language (since OWG is based in Netherlands). English version and/or web-based version will be likely be available in the next edition.