Over the last few weeks the latest version of ATbar in English and Arabic has been put through its paces – the Arabic translation can be reached through the link at bottom of the page or go directly to the ATbar Arabic version.
It is thanks to the work of Seb and Paul from AIType that we now have word prediction in place. This will work with most simple text boxes and searches – allow time for the word list to appear and you will soon have full word prediction!
Seb has also changed the look and feel of the spell checker so that it resembles a dialog box. At present the text to speech is using a Voice As A Service (VAAS) system with Acapela voices via the Insipio servers. It is hoped in the future, with the marketplace in full use, users will choose their own ATbar voices with a selection of free and possibly more open source options available for those who wish to use text to speech.
Magnus has been working on the marketplace, which allows ATbar users the chance to choose which plugins they would like to add to the toolbar. There is already a wide selection in English and the standard toolbar options available in Arabic. Developers will be able to make their own plugins with an ATkit and eventually the marketplace will be open for these to be uploaded and shared with others.
Both Fadwa and Edrees have been kind enough to help with translations of both the toolbar and the website. This has been a great kindness as they are taking their PhDs and have several papers on the go at this time. Areeb has also helped when panic has set in and we are unable to work out whether the spell checker or word prediction is working correctly. Often a cry of help has gone up in the lab, only to have enormous kindness shown by our colleagues who speak Arabic – Thank you.
Lisha has also joined the team to kindly test both the toolbar and marketplace for bugs, as someone who had not tried the ATbar before last week. Her results can be downloaded as an Excel spread sheet – ATbar results (.xls download) and the marketplace evaluation MS Word document (.docx). The ATbar tests have been carried out using Internet Explorer 7/8/9, Firefox and Chrome (latest versions) with websites in English and Arabic. The main points to note are that ATbar will not expand fixed width fonts and if a user comes across a site where the toolbar does not make fonts larger, then both pictures and text will have to be magnified using the browser’s zoom feature (Ctrl+). It is also possible that the font styles and line spacing may be affected by this type of web page design.
Sites that use Flash are inaccessible to the ATbar, just as they are to screen readers unless additional work is carried out by the original developer. The ATbar may be hidden by Flash elements and some scrolling menu bars. There are also issues with some versions of Internet Explorer that do not occur with the other browsers when script is used to hide elements on a web page.
During this phase of the ATbar development we really would be grateful if all bugs could be recorded on the ATBar GitHub pages and any future ideas for extending this service added to the REALISE website.