Author Archives: E.A. Draffan

Sam uses Realise for new ideas for Accessible Apps.

Sam has been asking the ECS Accessibility Team to develop several apps to help him work around difficulties he has encountered with his course materials.

He has added a request for an accessible version of the Spotify and Kindle Apps as ideas on the REALISE market place.  Neither work with VoiceOver particularly well when he is using his iPhone – the screen reader does not allow him to access content whether it is music or books.

Sam has also found that he cannot use Radio Sonar with his screen reader software called Window-Eyes.  Sonar is a radio control software application that is used on his course so we are hoping we can find a developer to assist with this problem along with some funding to cover the costs.

ATbar WordPress Plugin now available in Arabic and English

Adding ATbar WordPress pluginThe  ATbar WordPress plugin was added to the REALISE market place but has yet to go through its full Openness Rating

Magnus has just updated his ATbar WordPress plugin so it now supports English, Arabic and the ATkit Marketplace toolbars. You just select the version you want and if it is a marketplace one, just paste the install link from the toolbar viewing page in the marketplace and it will load the toolbar just like the normal ATbar.

It’s uploaded on the WordPress repository and Git Hub and the latest version is installed on this blog.

ATbar and Marketplace Launched

ATbar logoATbar that was added to the REALISE site as an idea in 2011, has been rewritten to cope with English and Arabic languages thanks to Mada (Qatar Assistive Technology Center). There is a standard Lite version and a build your own version. Plugins can be added to an empty ATbar to offer users a customisable approach to enhanced reading of accessible web pages.

The standard ATbar Lite is a bookmark that can be dragged to the browser toolbar (or added to favorites). It has a set collection of plugins. Fonts can be enlarged, their style changed with increased line spacing to aid readability.

There is a spell checker and dictionary. Text to speech for reading selected text uses a female Acapela voice in both languages. The use of Readability reduces clutter on a web page and word prediction comes thanks to AItype. It works with all plain text edit boxes.

The entire look and feel of an accessible web page can be changed to offer high contrast mode with linear text or just colour changes to the text and links. The toolbar colour can be changed. It is possible to reset pages and exit the toolbar at anytime. When a new web page is loaded the toolbar has to be relaunched.

To customise your own ATbar go to the marketplace and install the required plugins – the toolbar can be saved and used in a similar way to the Lite version.

Video by JISC Digital Media about the REALISE Project

Marc has managed to put together all our comments about the REALISE  Project and Mike has added a transcript so it can all be seen on Synote and you can add comments!

A big thank you also to Enid Bensa, Ross Gardler, Mike Wald, Andy Heath with his bike and Peter Cudd for sharing their thoughts on the subject of the REALISE market place that has now received further funding from Devices for Dignity 

Realise market place receives further funding from D4D

D4D logoDevices for Dignity (D4D) has kindly supported the continuation of the Realise market place for the innovation of open source assistive technologies. The aim is to investigate the market and to follow through a series of case studies from idea to project implementation.

D4D in their news item titled ” New online marketplace to create Assistive Technologies”  announced that:

Project REALISE was developed through JISC funding awarded to the Universities of Southampton and Sheffield and will now continue to develop with the National Healthcare Technology Co-operative, Devices for Dignity (D4D).

REALISE will support some of the most innovative projects through the next steps of their development. Commercial companies and researchers are invited to become involved in open project development at any time.

Senior Research Associate at the University of Sheffield, Dr Peter Cudd said: “REALISE facilitates the development of software that ensures online equality. We hope the launch of this exciting online workspace at RaATe and KT-Equal will inspire individuals and companies to join us in this exciting endeavour.”

The beginnings of some statistics!

The REALISE market place has yet to be officially launched but we have some Google Analytics for the last month.  Sadly an update to the REALISE code lost us the month of June when we would have had a considerable number of users as we had our Transferability workshop.

345 visits came from 14 countries/territories

  • 124 absolute unique visitors
  • 2,308 pageviews
  • 6.69 average page views
  • 00:04:41 Time on Site
  • 28.41% new visits
The AAATE 2011 conference sees members of the team with posters and papers enjoying Maastricht so hopefully there will soon be more dark green over Europe!

More guidance now available.

realise home pageThe REALISE market place website has been updated with the home page offering a walk through of the process .  The Help file has been made very visible on the right-hand side of the pages and the FAQs sorted into sections with additional information.  Each section now has a description at the top.

ideas pagePlease do make comments and let us know if more is required.


REALISE Help file

We are making a help file for the website and would be grateful if you could possibly comment on the usefulness of this sample for interactions made on the REALISE market place

The layout will be changed, probably spread over a number of pages/sections and the images will be larger/more suitable sizes.

Using the REALISE Market Place

Anyone can browse, read about and learn more about the REALISE Market Place without registering on the site but it will not be possible to collaborate or add ideas.


registerYou must be registered or sign in to submit an idea or manage projects. To register or sign in, select the relevant option at the top lefthand side of the screen.  There is a Linkedin login option.

register 2


A unique user name and email address is required (an alternative display name can be used once registered) along with a suitable strength password.



Creating a new idea


To create an idea navigate to the Idea Lab. Type the name of the idea into the edit boxnew idea and select submit to reach a page that requires a short overview of the idea.  A more lengthy description can be added later.



new idea tags

Tags should also be chosen to aid future searches, along with a relevant category and an image if possible.

ideas page

Your idea once submitted has a separate page. Here information and links are displayed and comments can be added by any user. To manage your idea simply select ‘Manage‘ on the Idea page.

Incubate an Idea


If you are ready to take your or anyone else’s idea further, select the idea from the Ideas Lab and then select ‘Incubate‘.

Ideas in the Incubator have a similar look and feel to those in the Ideas Lab – allowing users to add comments and see the incubated idea information.

Fill in the title and descriptive information as well as other items if you are managing the project for example the:

  • Image
  • Project URL
  • Licence
  • Your community
  • Tracking and bug fixes
  • Repository URL


incubated projectThere are several document links on the right hand side of the page that can help with decision making regarding aspects of managing an open innovation project.

There is also the ‘Openness Rating‘ that can be completed to show how open a project is becoming.  Mentors are on hand to help with this aspect and you can find them on the Community Page with a star by their name.  An example of a project that has a mentor is ATbar.

Progressing an Incubated Idea to a Project

To turn an incubated idea into a project an Openness Rating of 75% or more is required.get openness rating It is possible to continue to add to the Openness Rating at any time but it is essential that each section is saved as it is completed.


openness rating test

The openness rating was constructed by OSS Watch  as discussed in their Software Sustainability Maturity Model, to ensure projects are as open as possible.



manage incubated

To move your project from the Incubator to the Projects Page select ‘Manage‘ and then at the bottom of the page select ‘Promote‘. This will create a Project.





The project page is much the same as the ideas and incubated ideas pages. Information about the project is displayed along with comments and links to those who are following its progress on the right hand side.

project LG

REALISE Transferability Workshop

building 32

©2010 François-Xavier Beckers (CC-BY)

The Realise project held its Transferability Workshop on June 7th at the University of Southampton in Building 32.  Thirty brave souls, all experts in their own fields accepted our invitation. (Word doc download) We are incredibly grateful for their time and energy as the day was spent discussing elements of the REALISE market place, its use, community involvement and improvements that could be made to ensure its sustainability.  There were five groups of six, each table taking on different ideas with the notion that they could become open innovation projects thanks to community involvement, mentoring and online guidance.  But what of the transferability!

“Transferability refers to the degree to which the results of qualitative research can be generalized or transferred to other contexts or settings.” (Research Methods Knowledge Base)  With this in mind those attending the workshop came from different sectors of both education and health with links to assistive technology (AT).  Experts came from the two regions of Southampton and Sheffield as well as other parts of the country.  There were several individuals from other universities and organisations already involved with open innovation projects such as the JISC funded ‘Rave in Context‘ (Oxford University) and the Widget Design Authoring Toolkit (WIDGaT) (Teeside University).  Plus those from three companies who are members of the British Assistive Technology Association with developers from the NHS, education and business such as TDM

Attendees came from Devices for Dignity who have been involved with the project from the outset along with colleagues from Sheffield 50+ and REMAP (Southampton) and Paxton Crafts Charitable Trust providing the open source Straight Street Mulberry symbol system added their user knowledge to the discussions.  Our critical friend Nigel Spencer from the British Library mentioned his EU funded Open innovation project about ‘Working with others to make new ideas fly’ and Andy Heath brought his experience of the EU4ALL project to the table.

sound levels

Thanks to Deafness Research UK

The discussions topped the 100 decibel level at times and the team had to keep a strong handle on the time table to allow for a few speaking slots!  Punam Khosla from TechDis talked about her BCE and Stakeholder work and ACUMEN work with small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), which was mentioned at our last Support and Synthesis group meeting. Dr Nasser Siabi as CEO of MicrolinkPC talked about his work with open source tools in South Africa and the transfer of applications such as ATbar to other sectors such as employment and charitable organisations e.g.  Fix the Web.

The team also had the support of two researchers to collect data and recordings of the hands-on sessions around ideas, incubation and projects which each ended with a little form filling to provide feedback. Points of importance were mentioned in whispered tones by Will Allen to some us seeking advice and networking was well underway in the intervals. The plan for the day, questionnaires plus results were made available on paper and as a set of slides (download .ppt) at the end of the day. We have to thank Peter Cudd for this output, Lauren for organising all the food plus all those who came from near and far to make it an amazingly useful day for us all. Thank you very much.

Last Iterations, Business Ideas for open source AT and Dissemination.

Business case for closed and open innovationThis last month has been very busy with new additions to the REALISE market place and discussions around the business case for open source AT illustrated in the two Powerpoint slides made by team member,  Peter Cudd. The first looks at the idea of offering some sales, support and services as a way of sustaining a project with some research and development plus consultancy and the second slide shows the option of much more research and consultancy with some support and services, whereas the closed innovation usually depends on large sales and less on  support and services.

business case for open innovation

There are several blogs on the subject for general open source software but rarely articles that relate to Assistive Technology that also discuss matters around the business case other than to say there are an increasing number of people who will need to use assistive technologies in the future.

However, one particular article written by Fernando Botelho (who works with groups in low income areas across the world)  makes for an interesting read – “Open Source Software-Based Assistive Technologies“(download PDF) He comments that: “Ease of localization and low cost are the most widely mentioned reasons for choosing open source software solutions but they are not the most important ones. While the viability of localization for languages that are not very profitable would indeed be very difficult to replicate in closed source models, the cost of proprietary solutions can be made irrelevant in the short term through donations or substantial discounts.  In this regard two important considerations come to mind: First, donations of proprietary assistive technology software are never made in a large enough volume to actually reach a large portion of the population that needs the technology; and second, governments, foundations, and NGOs need assurance that an investment made in training today will still be relevant in a decade or two and only open source models ensure that.”

One of the issues facing users of open source assistive technology nearer home is training and support for these products and it seems that there really needs to an increased amount of ‘awareness raising’ to fill the gap as an increasing number of open source assistive technologies come to market.  We are beginning see these ideas turn to viable projects on the REALISE market place and this will be discussed at the JISC RSC Scotland NE Open Education event in Edinburgh on May 20th, 2011.  Download or view the PowerPoint slides on SlideShare – Realise project introduction

View more presentations from E.A. Draffan.