[Sugar-devel] accessibility

Andrés Ambrois andresambrois at gmail.com
Wed Apr 8 13:46:42 EDT 2009

On Wednesday 08 April 2009 05:24:18 Tomeu Vizoso wrote:
> Hi,
> might be interesting to lurk during this session to learn more about
> how we'll improve accessibility in Sugar.

  Some weeks ago I met Andrea Mangiatordi, from the Farfalla Project, who is 
working with LATU on accessibility issues. I invited him to write down his 
thoughts on this problem, and I think it would be great to discuss some here:

Andrés Ambrois wrote:
> Hey Andrea!
> There has been a lot of talk on accessibility lately in the Sugar
> community, mainly because of several related Summer of Code
> applications. I remember you've been working on this front with LATU,
> and I think it would be great if you could share some of your work with us.

Hi Andrés, hi Chris,
I am also Ccing Pablo Flores (CeibalJAM) who recently asked me to put 
down some lines about my proyect before he heads to Boston.
I am currently working in the Ceibal technical Area at LATU even if I am 
not strictly a technician. I am a PhD student interested on the 
inclusive potential of technology for disabled children who attend 
lessons in ordinary classes. Currently, I am splitting my weeks in two 
parts: I participate in the school work of some children (three days a 
week, teaching them how to use some very basical instruments, such as 
Mousekeys...) and during the remaining days I work (mainly alone, but in 
a LATU office) on my own proyect, which is a web application which aims 
to providing some special aids through the web [0]. I am trying to 
optimize the app to be used on the XO laptop.

You know there are some small haks which can be practiced on an XO to install 
and configure some new interesting features. I started out from this one [1] 
and I find it absolutely useful with children with movement impairments 
as the ones in the school I am doing research.
The last week, as an example, two students came to propose a project 
they are working on for their thesis: it was not considered interesting 
and someone proposed me to talk to them and ask if they could be 
interested in developing something related to accessibility... They 
showed some interested, but they were visibly incredulous...
Ah, in the LATU tech area there are also two people working on an 
interface to use a wheelchair through the XO.

> I'm CCing Chris Ball who is one of the main developers behind Dasher,
> which we talked about a couple of weeks ago, apart from an engineer
> working at OLPC and an all around good guy. It would be great if LATU
> could help in some way integrate Dasher in Sugar.

Nice! I am a Dasher fan, as I already told Andrés. I would like to do a 
Dasher Activity myself, if I only knew how!

> We would be very happy to hear about your work on the Sugar mailing list
> [0]. Please feel free to stop by our IRC channel #sugar at
> irc.freenode.net, I'm usually idling there as aa.
> See you around :).

Ok, now I'll join both.

Summarizing, my ideas about Sugar accessibility solutions are:

- integrating accessX in the Sugar core, putting an icon in the control 
panel to configure the mouse/keyboard preferences -> this seems quite 
simple to me, even if I don't have (almost) any knowledge of python

- adding some way to do CAPS LOCK! I read in this [2] olpc wiki 
discussions that the caps lock key was proposed for removal for encumber 
reasons. This seems odd to me, because most of the children I am working 
with simply don't know small capitals letters!

- adding screen reader features, but I know this is already in the GSoC 
proposals... As you know, I already installed Xubuntu on my XO and it 
runs like a charm, with ORCA enabled too. I have some problems with 
dasher there... It doesn't seem to get the mouse cursor position. I'll 
investigate it soon...

- adding an onscreen keyboard: it could be a standalone application with 
its own text area (just like Dasher) or a system wide keyboard. I think 
the second option would be trikier... GOK could be the preferred choice, 
but I also noticed this [3] proyect and I found it interesting.
In the case of a standalone keyboard I would probably prefer (for 
personal experience reasons only) to use this [4] javascript based 
virtual keyboard inside a navigator. It comes with very good 
multilanguage support and together with some web wisiwig editor could be 
very useful. I am already integrating it in my own proyect.

- adding some magnifying aid: I don't really like the one which comes 
with ORCA, I would prefer something which gave the opportunity to have
both a fixed magnifying area (as in ORCA's) AND a movable magnifying 
virtual glass (as the one here [5])

Ok, these are some ideas, not very original to be honest, but I think 
they have to be considered mayor priorities. And it's quite late and I'm 
quite lazy ;)

I hope that the discussion will be hot on the Sugar ML...

Thanks to everybody for your interest in this theme.

See you


[0] http://www.farfalla-project.org
[1] http://wiki.laptop.org/go/AccessX
[2] http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Keyboard_design#Omit_CAPS_LOCK
[3] http://sourceforge.net/projects/florence
[4] http://debugger.ru/demo/projects/virtualkeyboard/
[5] http://magnifier.sourceforge.net/

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