Open source assistive technology software
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Open Source Assistive Technology Software. OATS David Colven, Steve Lee & Simon Judge. OATS. Assistive Technology Accessibility Advice and tools for ‘mainstream’ AT Specialist cooperative development The OATS Project FLOSS software and the OATS project Why OATS?

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Open Source Assistive Technology Software

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Open Source Assistive Technology Software


David Colven, Steve Lee & Simon Judge

FLOSSIE Conference


  • Assistive Technology

    • Accessibility

      • Advice and tools for ‘mainstream’

    • AT

      • Specialist cooperative development

  • The OATS Project

  • FLOSS software and the OATS project

  • Why OATS?

  • What does the OATS project deliver?

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The Consortium

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The ACE Centre

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  • An AT focus for all FLOSS development

  • Individual projects and shared

  • Interested parties contributing together

  • Many skills solving user requirements

  • Focussed, flexible and custom solutions

  • More users with transparent access

  • Transport AT to new horizons

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Assistive Technology

  • AT software market is growing

  • However it is ‘specialised’

  • Small Market

  • Innovation limited

  • Box fitting – not enough tools

  • Lots of interested individuals across sectors

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FLOSS What do AT users want?

  • Good design and Innovation

  • Simple installation

  • Transparency

  • Reliability

  • Individual solutions to sometimes complex needs (even with universal design)

  • Low Cost

  • All software not just AT

  • Ask for what they want and get involved

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  • Open Source offers an alternative model for developing AT software

  • Well suited to encourage:

    • Strong collaboration with users

    • Innovation

    • Customisation

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FLOSS Strengths

  • Many projects like OpenOffice and Firefox now meet users needs with excellent features and support

  • Ideal for innovation and customising to individual needs

  • Community and user participation

  • Rapid development and prototyping

  • Free!

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OATS FLOSS What’s in it for developers

  • Community and User participation

  • Infectious enthusiasm

  • Innovate and share innovations.

    • Rapid development and prototyping

    • Common library of tools and components

    • No wheel re-inventing!

  • Easily available and usable by more users

    • Their work is useful and is used!

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  • Software!

    • Home grown OATS and existing OATS

    • Resources

  • Standards

    • Usability

    • Installers

    • Software structure

    • Data transfer

    • Resources

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  • Pilot project now complete

    • Developed, fully operational site

    • Prepared means for a ‘community’

  • The Future

    • Oats to continue under day-to-day management

    • Further development of content, tools etc.

    • Thriving OS community – come and join in!

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  • ‘All’ Open SourceAT software in ONE place

  • Links to free or low cost software

  • Easy to use searching and browsing for software

  • Links between developers and users (fora)

  • Technology transfer from research

  • Full range of development tools in Forge

    • Trac etc.

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Oats Examples

  • Dasher

  • AutoHotkey

  • PowerTalk

  • Special Access to Windows

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Why did we Open Source SAW?

  • Limited development resources

  • Keep the software free

  • Widen the pool of expertise

  • Open the program to new ideas

  • As an exemplar of AT development

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Automation of the AT User IinterfaceThe big idea

  • Potential for enhanced & (semi-) automated accessibility for switch and pointer users as part of a new interface design process.

    • Dynamically discover UI structure

    • Extract property information

    • Receiveevent notifications when UI changes

    • Be able to Query an element for its behaviour

    • Click a button, scroll a list, moves a window, etc.

    • Inject keystrokes and mouse input where appropriate

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Dynamic Selection Set - A User’s Tool

The wizard also constructs the appropriate script from the available information from the browser

Links and texts extracted automatically and constructed into a selection set

Information taken from UIAutomation is used to put data into items

SAW works out the number of items needed and constructs a grid of items


  • Provides a new model for software development in the AT field

  • Encourages innovation

  • Allows users to be heard

  • Is a single place to go for AT software and resources

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