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.

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

Releasing Anumaan-a predictive text entry system

Today Anumaan (alpha-0.1 version) has been released by C-DAC, Mumbai as a part of its activities and commitment in the area of accessibility. Anumaan is a perspective-based, on-screen predictive text entry system for GNOME desktop. Basically, it is an extension of an Input Method (IM) mechanism (on GNOME desktop) in the sense that it extends its (IM) notion by including the power of text prediction. It has support for UTF-8 unicode encoding. The system allows users to train it and personalize and as per their writing style into different named domains. Hence, it adapts to user’s writing style in some sense. Although, the current version does not support live mode adaptation, still a user can train a domain as many times he  likes.

Anumaan is designed for a (text) sequence prediction based on a certain Context.The context can either be a partial word context or a partial sentence context. Therefore, it is intended to help people suffering from different kinds of motor disability by allowing it to be customized for different kinds of Input devices (e.g. keyboard, mouse, joystick or any other pointing device especially built for people suffering from motor disability). In other words, it can be customized very easily to cater to different hand movement capabilities. The current version is only for mouse and keyboard based interactions. But, we can easily customize it for different hardware input device requirements.
The current released versions have two flavours:
1. Anumaan-standalone: The base system which runs on Java Swing Interface.
2. AnumaanLinux: The Linux version which uses Anumaan-standalone as base and is ported to utilize the accessibility features of GNOME GAIL library. The current interface is accessible to almost all Gtk+ Editable Text Widgets.
Anumaan URLs:
1. Anumaan Main Page on CDAC Mumbai Website:
http://www.cdacmumbai.in/index.php/cdacmumbai/research_and_publications/research_groups/open_source_soft_division/projects/anumaan
2. AnumaanLinux source download:
http://www.cdacmumbai.in/projects/anumaan/downloads/AnumaanLinux-alpha-0.1.tar.gz (released under GNU/GPL 3.0 License)
3. AnumaanLinux Documentation can be accessed at:
http://www.cdacmumbai.in/projects/anumaan/docs/AnumaanLinuxUserManual/index.html
4. Anumaan-standalone download:
http://www.cdacmumbai.in/projects/anumaan/downloads/Anumaan-standalone-alpha-0.1.tar.gz
5. Anumaan-standalone Documentation can be accessed at:
http://www.cdacmumbai.in/projects/anumaan/docs/AnumaanStandaloneUserManual/index.html
6. Anumaan Default Language Model download:
http://www.cdacmumbai.in/projects/anumaan/downloads/AnumaanDefaultLM.tar.gz
Anumaan Videos:
A session of AnumaanLinux: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSzLt9ZVnOY
A session of Anumaan-standalone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ah9w37JY7ec
AnumaanLinux build and install: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYW2LDh4v0c

NB: The application is still evolving, hence please do give us your feedbacks, bug reports or feature enhancement requests.
Please mail us at mailto:predictanumaan@gmail.com