We have set up a series of YouTube videos that include:
Text resizing, font style changes and line spacing. This video has no audio but shows how a user can select the magnifier on the toolbar to enlarge text without resizing the graphics – this tends to allow for more readable text when compared to zooming using the browser Ctrl+ which also enlarges the graphics. However, this feature does not work when Flash has been used within a webpage or fonts have fixed sizes or styles. The same applies to increased line spacing which is also demonstrated.
The second video demonstrates how the A.I.Type word prediction works as well as spell checking when writing a blog using WordPress. Use the HTML mode when working in the edit box rather than the Visual mode and then you will also be able to use the text to speech to aid proof reading.
A recent FOSS survey is seeking to learn more about user engagement with the open source community. It has been produced by ‘a regional research team affiliated with the Access to Knowledge for Development Center (A2K4D) at the School of Business of the American University in Cairo, in collaboration with Ma3bar, the Arab Support Center for Free & Open Source Software at the University of Balamand, Al-Kurah, Lebanon.’
It would be wonderful if the results of the survey could provide us with more information about Arabic open source assistive technologies but for the moment just knowing about the availability of any products would be helpful. (Sadly the survey ends with a Captcha so it is not screen reader accessible.
Despite searching and contacting individuals accross the area we have struggled to find FOSS assistive technology programs that have already been developed in the Arabic language. Please leave comments to tell us about any you might have found.
Miftaah on Ma3bar.org offers Araic translations for information about several portable apps. Their range of apps includes office, browser, email, PDF readers and VLC. However, I discovered that although the menus may be in Arabic (as we have achieved with our Access Tools pendrive menu (version 2) the actual programs are still those available in English from Portable apps).
ArabEyes has links to a number of start up projects including the Duali spell checker and Khotot, a set of open TTF Arabic fonts. More information is available about the latest release of the bold version of KacstOne font v5.0.
Sadly many of the other sites are dated and the code is no longer being updated.
Perhaps the place for professionals to find out more is the ArabNet as this crosses boundaries when it comes to the commercial and open source world. It hosted the ArabNet Digital Summit in Beirut and as Mike Butcher from TechCrunch said:
“The MENA (Middle East North Africa) region’s largest digital event has been expanded to 5 days featuring speakers, panels, workshops, a startup competition and about 1,500 delegates. In a sign the the Arab business world is really getting switched on to tech these days, there’s even a hackathon-style developer event during the conference. I daresay there will be some interesting startups for TechCrunch to unearth there.”
So hopefully you will join us in the quest for open source and freely available Arabic language assistive technology. Here is a short video from the Mada Center in Qatar about building the awareness around assistive technology and accessibility in Arabic.
It is thanks to the Mada Center that we have been able to explore the development of open source assistive technologies in Arabic and the latest version of the ATbar in Arabic has occurred.