星期五 一月 05, 2007

Visit the Beijing School for the Blind

I am doing accessibility for JDS for about 1 year. I do accessibility QE work for Evolution, Gaim and Thunderbird. After long time using there At-tools, I really want to know what's the expectation of the target users about At-tools and what's their feedback of these software.

I talked about my idea with my friend who work as an English teacher in Beijing Blind School, I asked her is it OK for me to visit the blind school. One week later, she invite me to visit the Blind school. My colleague, Dave Lin was also interested in this. On Dec 28th, we went there together with one laptop installed with Solaris Development build.

When we arrived the blind school, we met several teachers and the director of the computer center. One teacher showed us around the computer rooms. There are more than 20 computers in the room(The average number of student in each class is 15), the machine are brand new, Dell_280. Every computer is running Windows_XP and installed accessibility tools for blind user which cost 7000 RMB. The accessibility tool is called "Sunshine software for Blind" , include screen reader and magnifier. The teacher complained about the screen reader crashed frequently.

I said Sun is also doing the accessibility tools in Solaris, especially we have Orca which is focus on blind people. Solaris and all the At-tools are open sourced, What we want to do is collaborate with bind school, donate some machines to them with Solaris installed. The only thing we want is the feedback from the blind students. Their suggestions, ideas, experiences and demands which will help us to improve Sun's product. And later I showed the At-tools on Solaris, including GOK, Head-Tracker, Screen Reader, Magnifier, Theme and Keyboard navigation. All the teacher are all interested in the tools we showed. They would like to ask these students to try Solaris and use the accessibility tools on Solaris.

After the conversation, I feel Sun's At-tools has a big disadvantage if we want to promote it in Beijing Blind School. That is: the screen reader do not have Chinese TTS(Text-To-Speech). That's the biggest demand from blind school. That's also the demands of all the non-English speak blind people. So currently, finding a open sourced Chinese TTS is crucial.

Visit the Beijing Blind School is the first step, later we could donate some machines to the school and invite the teaches and students come to Sun, do a presentation in our forum. Let more people know and concern about these blind students, also understand the work of A11Y team have done in Sun.

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PS: What are accessibility tools:

There are 5 At-tools: Theme, Keyboard navigation, Magnifier, Screen reader, GOK which supported varying levels of disability.

\* User with lesser Visual Impairment - using theming

\* User with moderate Visual Impairment - using screen magnification

\* Blind User - sing text-to-speech and Braille output

\* User with lesser Motor Difficulties - using Accessx Functionality

\* User with severe Motor Difficulties - using pointing device(GOK)

\* User with severe Motor Difficulties - using switches(GOK)

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