March 3, 2009

Assistive Technologies

I had a few experience with People with disabilities such as blindness, deafness, etc. I've also participated in some activities where such people were trained to be an independent person. And what I felt was after those sessions they were all happy, because they felt like they are capable of something and it made them happier and more independent than they were before. This was all before a few years and now was wondering if I could do something for the benefit of them. So I decided to write a series of blog posts on Open Source assistive Technologies, Starting with this post.

What is Assistive Technology ?

Wikipedia, one of the most popular web encyclopedia defines assistive technologies as a generic term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities and includes the process used in selecting, locating, and using them.

Why Assistive Technologies ?

I'm sure that this question is irrelevant in this educated modern era of compassionate people. However There are a lot of people with disabilities (say millions of them). Who need our support and care, but in the case of technologies, they are often created without regard to people with disabilities. And this makes it harder for them to use these technologies as the normal people do. I believe that It's our Dharma to take care of them and help them overcome their difficulties. I belive that Open Source not only the making of free and Open Source Software, it is more about creating a better world, A world where everyone gets a chance to live a better life without any restrictions.

How Can I Help the Disabled ?

There are somany was you can think of. You can contribute to some Open Source Assistive Technology projects if you can. Or you can create a local group to help people with disabilities, such as helping them to learn Braille. Even you can learn how to configure assistive softwares so that you can help some people with that. Or you can do something else that you think will eventually help the disabled people.

Devising Futuristic Ideas for Assistive Technologies is a good way of contributing.Everyone is talking about Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, and there are even some Open Source Projects related to these things are getting ready. So why can't you tap your creative thinking to innovate new ideas for the future ?, which can help disabled people interact with virtual and augmented environments much easily.

What are the available Open Source Assistive Technologies ?

There are a number of Ope Source Projects that focus on creating assistive technologies for the disabled people.

  • Dasher is a computer accessibility tool which enables users to write without using a keyboard
  • - NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA) is a free and open source screen reader for the Microsoft Windows operating system

I'll update the blog soon with a few other posts, where we'll be discussing, how to setup your Linux Box for disabled people with open source assistive technologies.

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