CDAC Mumbai projects awarded SKOCH Order of Merit Medals and listed among India’s Best-2013

Three research projects of CDAC Mumbai have been awarded the prestigious SKOCH Order of Merit medals for their distinguished and outstanding contributions in enabling and promoting Digital Inclusion of Indian citizens into the ICT mainstream. These projects are:

These medals along with certificates were conferred to CDAC Mumbai in an awards ceremony held at 33rd SKOCH Summit during September 2-3, 2013 in New Delhi. SKOCH awards from SKOCH Group are hailed as one of the highest independently instituted civilian honours in the country and considered as independent benchmarks for best practices in India in the fields of governance, finance, banking, technology, corporate citizenship, economics and inclusive growth.

CDAC Mumbai projects were selected by an eminent jury of domain experts among nearly a thousands nominations through a rigorous scrutiny process. Scrutiny process went for nearly 3 months comprising about 200 jury presentations and 150 hours of deliberations.

These research projects have also been listed among India’s Best-2013 in Smart Governance and Digital Inclusion. It is noteworthy here that CDAC Mumbai, over 25 years, has been extensively involved in R & D activities related to various fields of software technology such as multilingual computing, e-learning, e-governance, free/open source software & cyber security etc. Solutions developed under these projects are being used by a large number of targeted end-users, community members, institutions etc. and have been highly appreciated by them.

As significant section of Indian population consists of people with disabilities, “Enhancing Accessibility for FOSS Desktops project is an effort to make common computer desktop accessible to such people, thereby enabling them to avail the benefits of modern ICT technologies. This project so far has been able to produce reusable and accessible software solutions as per the specific needs of disabled people having visual, physical and cognitive impairments. All solutions and products developed under the project are open source and freely available. All these solutions have been widely deployed, distributed and downloaded among individuals and disability related organisations/institutions. These can be accessed at http://www.cdacmumbai.in/accessibility.

Major products developed under the project are ALViC (Accessible Linux for Visually Challenged), Anumaan (an predictive text entry system) and GEM (GEstures with Mouse) for physically impaired people, GNU/Linux distribution for Cognitively Challenged etc. Moreover, project has also made significant contributions to FOSS communities like Orca, Nautilus, Poppler, and OpenOffice.org etc.

On the other hand, Online Labs (Olabs) for school lab experiments provides students with the ease and convenience of conducting experiments over the Internet. It has been developed to supplement the traditional physical labs and bridge the constraints of time and geographical distances. This not only reduces the costs incurred for conducting experiments in real time, but also gives a student the flexibility to explore and repeat experiments till they are thorough.

At present, 30 Physics and Chemistry experiments covering topics like Hooke’s Law, Reflection in concave Mirror, Boiling Point of Water, etc are available for online access. Each experiment has sections covering related theory, procedure, animation, simulation, assessment and reference material. It can be accessed at http://www.olabs.co.in.

While, Parikshak, an Online Automated Computer Program Grading & Analysis Tool, aims at improving the quality of computer programmers in India, by exploiting automated systems for programming assessment and teaching. CDAC Mumbai has successfully demonstrated the effectiveness of this tool in its decade old Post Graduate Diploma courses in Software Technology, by providing better computer programmers to the Indian Software Industry.

The tool is now available for use online at www.parikshak.in and has been adopted by distinguished educational and corporate organisations in India.

Release of new version of GNU/Linux distribution for Cognitively Challenged by CDAC, Mumbai

Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) has released the new version (version 0.1.2) of GNU/Linux distribution for CognitivelyChallenged. Cognitively challenged people face different kinds of problems such as memory loss, forgetfulness, attention problems etc. Therefore, the major objective of this distribution is to provide an accessible desktop environment suitable to such users. The major highlights of this distribution are simplified and accessible desktop environment, simplified applications, tagged file system, tag-based searching, user’s activity log, reminder facility etc. that are specifically aimed to reduce distraction and memory load during computer interaction. These salient features of the distribution can be of immense help to such users and their caretakers, while using computer. This distribution is based on Ubuntu 10.04 and offers a number of improvements/enhancements over previously released version (version 0.1.1). These improvements/enhancements have been incorporated based on feedbacks and suggestions received from various organisations and users.

Major highlights in the current release:

  • Faster tag based searching
  • Facility to add new user-defined image tags
  • Enhanced tag control center to edit/delete existing tags(textual and image both).
  • Enhanced tag control center to add new file extensions for which tag setting option should be enabled.
  • New educational games included (The Number Race and Tux Type)

GNU/Linux distribution for Cognitively Challenged-0.1.2 can be downloaded from here.

More details about the distribution can be accessed at http://www.cdacmumbai.in/glcc.

Details of various enhancements made in the current version can be found at http://nrcfoss.cdacmumbai.in/access/LinuxForCC-0.1.2-docs/ChangeLog_0.1.2.pdf.

Feedback and suggestions about the distribution can be sent at ossd[at]cdac[dot]in.

ALViC – Accessible Linux for Visually Challenged launched

ALViC- Accessible Linux for Visually Challenged was launched on 11th February, 2013 by Prof R. Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Adviser, Govt. of India & Shri J. Satyanarayana, Secretary, DeitY, Ministry of Comm. & I.T., Govt. of India during the CDAC Technology Conclave on 11th Feb, 2013 at Indian Habitat Centre, New Delhi. During the 2-days technology conclave, a number of technologies and products developed by CDAC under various thematic area were showcased.

ALViC is a complete desktop environment which provides a comprehensive solution for Visually Challenged users. This is a GNU/Linux distribution based on Ubuntu 10.04; and uses Orca 3.2.0 xdesktop screen reader as the main interaction mechanism for visually challenged users. They can use it out of the box because accessibility features suitable for fully blind as well as for partially blind users are enabled by default.

Main Features :

  • Free and open source desktop environment
  • Enhanced Orca with skim read, sentence navigation, list shortcut and structural navigation of text documents
  • PDF documents made accessible in Linux environment
  • Easy navigation and search facility on Desktop icon view
  • Accessible login for visually challenged users
  • Suitable desktop themes for partial blind
  • Other assistive tools like OCRFeeder, Audio book converter, Emerson DAISY reader, sound converter etc. useful for visually challenged users are also included.

This product has been released under the project ‘Enhancing Accessibility for FOSS Desktops’ at CDAC, Mumbai being carried out under NRCFOSS-Phase II. The research and development activities under this project are aimed at developing software-based assistive technologies/solutions for the differently-abled people.

Download:

ALViC can be downloaded from here.

Launch of ALViC can be watched here.

More details and documentation about ALViC can be accessed here.

Anumaan listed on Softpedia

Anumaan – open source predictive text entry system from CDAC, Mumbai has been added to the database of Softpedia. Softpedia is a library of over 400,000 free and free-to-try softwares. Anumaan on Softpedia can be accessed from here. Anumaan has also been awarded “100% Free” award from Softpedia signifying that Anumaan is a clean product.

Anumaan home page

 

RPM package of GEM (GEstures with Mouse) released

RPM package of GEM (GEstures with Mouse) has been released. GEM (GEstures with Mouse) is a mouse-gesture based input mechanism developed by CDAC, Mumbai for people with motor disabilities. It can be downloaded now from http://sourceforge.net/projects/gem-cdac/files/gem-0.1-1.i686.rpm/download or from http://www.cdacmumbai.in/accessibility.

 

New version of Anumaan – open source predictive text entry system from CDAC, Mumbai released

CDAC, Mumbai has announced the new release of open source predictive text entry system – Anumaan. This release includes new version of standalone flavour of Anumaan i.e. Anumaan-standalone-0.2. This version has been released as part of the activities of project “Enhancing Accessibility for FOSS Desktops” under NRCFOSS-Phase II being carried out at CDAC, Mumbai.

Anumaan gives predictions based on preceding text/words used by the user in his/her text and user can use these predictions, while composing text. By incorporating predictions, user can improve his/her rate of text entry to a great extent.

Anumaan is mainly intended to help persons with motor disabilities, specially ones facing problems in hand and finger movement. Such persons face difficulty in using regular input devices like keyboard for text entry related tasks. Anumaan can help such persons immensely in their text entry related tasks by way of predictions. However, It is equally useful for common users also and can support them in creating mails, letters, documents etc. in less time.

Salient features of current version include:

  • More user-friendly and simplified interface for easy interaction and navigation.
  • Re-oriented layout of text entry area and prediction display in order to reduce visual and cognitive overhead.
  • A single comprehensive prediction list combining predictions from all relevant grams for easy selection.
  • Keyboard support for selecting predictions from prediction list. It reduces time taken in selecting and committing predictions to text.
  • Larger text entry area compared to previous version for easy text entry.
  • Integrated context-sensitive help.
  • Re-oriented menu bar for easy access and navigation.

All these features are intended to improve user interaction and experience for motor disabled people.

Anumaan is developed on java platform and supports UTF-8, so it can effectively be run on any platform. Newly released version of Anumaan can be downloaded from http://www.cdacmumbai.in/anumaan.

Details about project “Enhancing Accessibility for FOSS Desktops” can be accessed at http://www.cdacmumbai.in/accessibility.

Feedback, bug reports or feature enhancement requests about the application can be sent to ossd[at]cdac[dot]in or predictanumaan[at]gmail[dot]com.

Computer Training Program for Visually Challenged at CDAC, Kharghar, Navi Mumbai during July 23–August 4, 2012

About training:
In India, about 7-8 million people are suffering from full or partial visual impairment. Such people have to be provided with different kinds of support devices to access the world and to perform routine tasks like bill payments, banking transactions, reservations etc.. Now technology, either software-based or hardware-based, has made it possible for these people to access the world in their own way. But a large section of blind population is still away from advantages of modern assistive technologies. The main reasons for this gap are not only the lack of awareness about assistive technologies available and lack of hands-on practice to use it, but also the cost of technology. Free & Open Source Software (FOSS) tools/techniques play an important role in creating assistive technologies that are free-of-cost, available to all and easily maintainable for a large portion of population in a country like India. For visually challenged people, available computer based assistive technologies include screen magnifier, screen reader, braille display, digital book reader and many more. From all of these, screen reader is the most popular and potentially useful for such people to access the computer. A screen reader is a software application that just not reads the screen from top to bottom but also helps the user to navigate the interface by communicating the current position where s/he is, where to go next by giving appropriate feedback. This training program is intended to provide a learning platform for visually challenged persons to learn the basics of computer and the usage of screen reader. The training will include using desktop, text editor, command line, word processor, spreadsheet, playing multimedia, Internet browsing and mail client. Working of screen reader with other Indian languages will also be covered during the training program. More details about training program can be found at CDAC, Mumbai website (http://www.cdacmumbai.in). The GNU/Linux distribution for Visually Challenged developed by CDAC, Mumbai and FOSS based screen reader Orca will be used for training purposes.
Objectives of training program:
  • To create awareness about computer based assistive technologies available for visually challenged users.
  • To give hands-on training for basics of computer using screen reader.

Target Audience:

Visually challenged users having basic understanding of English and interest to learn new technologies.
Duration: 10 Days (60hrs.) Dates: July 23, 2012 – August 4, 2012

Organized by:

Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, Mumbai

Supported by:

  National Resource Centre for Free & Open Source Software (NRCFOSS)
Registration Details:

Registration is free of cost, but the seats are very limited. Registration will be on first-come-first-serve basis. To register yourself, please download the registration form and send by e-mail to ossd@cdac.in or send by post to the address mentioned below.

For More details, please contact :-

E-mail: ossd@cdac.in

Address:

Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (Formerly NCST)

Near Bharati Vidyapeeth,
Raintree Marg, Sector 7, CBD Belapur, Navi Mumbai – 400614
Maharashtra, INDIA Telephone: + 91-22-27565303/304/305 Fax: +91-22-27565004

Note: More details about the programme can be accessed at http://www.cdacmumbai.in/ctvc

GEM (GEstures with Mouse) – a mouse gesture based input mechanism from CDAC, Mumbai

CDAC, Mumbai has released beta-0.1 version of GEM (GEstures with Mouse). It is an open source input mechanism which uses gestures as input to the system. Gestures can be drawn using a mouse or some equivalent device like touch pad, joystick, pen tablet etc. Gestures can drawn either as single-part (continuous) or multi-part (discontinuous) as shown in screen shots below:

drawing a single-part gesture
Drawing a single-part gesture in input window
Drawing a multi-part gesture
Drawing a multi-part gesture in input window

This Input mechanism is intended for people suffering with different kinds of motor disabilities, who may face problems in using mouse and keyboard in conventional way. Hence, it provides them with an alternate and effective mechanism for using the system to perform various tasks such as navigation, executing commands & keyboard shortcuts, and launching applications etc. on Linux desktop.

More details about GEM can be accessed at http://www.cdacmumbai.in/accessibility.

GEM related URLs:

1. Accessibility Project Main page at CDAC, Mumbai website can be accessed at http://www.cdacmumbai.in/accessibility.

2. GEM can be download at http://www.cdacmumbai.in/projects/accessibility/gem-beta-0.1.tar.gz.

3. User documentation for GEM can be accessed at http://www.cdacmumbai.in/projects/accessibility/How-To-Use-GEM.pdf.

Feedbacks, bug reports or feature enhancement requests about the application can be sent to ossd[at]cdac[dot]in.

 

National Workshop on FOSS Desktop Accessibility on August 26, 2011 at CDAC, Kharghar, Navi Mumbai

In today’s world, the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) is growing day by day. We use these technologies very extensively in fulfilling our routine tasks like bill payments, banking transactions, reservations and many more to the extent that ICT is not a luxury, but necessity today. A large section of the society comprising people with disabilities finds it difficult to use ICT in the same way as normal people do. This includes the visually impaired (fully or partially blind), hearing impaired, people with cognitive disabilities (memory loss, etc.) and cerebral problems etc..

Such people have to be provided with different kinds of assistive technologies either software-based or hardware-based to make ICT accessible to them. A large number of software-based assistive technologies are normally in the form of applications running on desktops which make common desktop applications (office applications, browser etc.) accessible for the disabled person. Free & Open Source Software (FOSS) tools/techniques play an important role in creating assistive technologies that are free-of-cost, available to all, easily maintainable etc. for a large portion of population in a country like India.

The workshop intends to provide a platform for promotion and adoption of FOSS in the area of accessibility as well as creating opportunities for all stakeholders to discuss and identify the areas of accessibility that are still untouched. The workshop will host keynote and invited lectures by distinguished personalities of the field.

This workshop is being organized by CDAC, Mumbai at their Kharghar, Navi Mumbai campus. More details about the workshop can be accessed at http://www.cdacmumbai.in/index.php/news_and_events/national_workshop_on_foss_desktop_accessibility