Friday Apr 01, 2011

Braille output from OpenOffice.org is the SourceForge project of the month

Under the aegis of the AEGIS project (hard to resist that pun), the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven developed odt2braille, the open source extension to OpenOffice.org (and Oracle Open Office and also LibreOffice) that turns Writer documents into braille. And today, Sourceforge picked odt2braille as its open source project of the month (read an interview about it here).

Congratulations to Bert Frees and Christophe Strobbe and the folks at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven for their work on this excellent extension. If you already have OpenOffice.org (or Oracle Open Office) you can get the extension directly from the OpenOffice.org extensions website.

Sunday Dec 05, 2010

Updates on document accessibility: Australia PDF study & a new release of odt2Braille

Document accessibility, and support for authors to create accessible documents, is receiving a lot of attention lately.

Recently in the news is a report from Vision Australia. Titled "The Australian Government's study into the Accessibility of the Portable Document Format for people with a disability", it describes the real-world problems the people with vision impairments have when trying to read PDF documents through various assistive technologies. The Supplementary Report goes into great detail on how they conduct the study and all of the specific results they found.

In somewhat related news, the AEGIS-supported odt2braille project just list of new features. While this release includes a number of important new features, we will have to wait a bit longer to use it on platforms other than Windows...

Both the PDF study and the work of the odt2braille project (and the related, AEGIS-supported odt2daisy project) point to the most significant issue in document accessibility: the accessibility of the document depends upon the author creating it with all of the necessary document structure markup (and ancillary metadata). If the structure and metadata are there, the document can be printed well in braille, and rendered as a rich and effective DAISY book, and be read by someone with an assistive technology (though additional requirements come into play for AT use). If the structure isn't there...

Which is a good segue into noting that the W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative work on version 2.0 of the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines is in "Last Call Working Draft" state, and will hopefully soon join WCAG 2.0 as a final specification of guidelines for authoring modern documents for use on the Web.

Wednesday Sep 01, 2010

Another release of odt2braille - Braille from Oracle Open Office & OpenOffice.org

Hot on the heels of the first release of odt2braille comes the new release: version 0.0.2 of odt2braille. This new release includes many features and enhancements, as well as new and updated braille translation tables in several languages (Catalan, Danish grade 2, Portuguese grade 2, and Spanish). This release also includes an updated user manual and a 6 part video tutorial on how to use it.

When combined with either Oracle Open Office or OpenOffice.org, odt2braille provides a powerful Braille embossing solution - even thought it is only at version 0.0.2... Great stuff!

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Peter Korn

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