Αντικείμενο του Έργου:
The objective of the project was the creation of a reading environment for the Blind with the use of speech synthesis for two languages, namely English and Greek. It involved the development of a special software that recognizes and “speaks out” the verbal elements of the computer screen, recognizes the language in which these elements are written and makes a topological description of the active PC Windows applications.
The objective of the project was a user-friendly interface for visually impaired people with the PC Windows environment, enabling the use of computers in one of the most physically challenged social groups of the national population.
The development of a special interface resulted to the possibility of individuals with impaired sight to have access to computer technology and technological multimedia. This interface is based mainly on the sense of hearing. It is specifically based on the development of a special software for controlling and recognizing the verbal elements of the screen (menu bars and dialogue boxes, messages about the status or form of the text), as well as “speaking them out” with a synthetic voice.
In addition, software for recognizing the language in which the verbal elements of the screen are written and software for informing the user about the number of the current applications was additionally developed, as well as the acoustic description of the various objects on the screen (texts, icons, graphics etc.) of the active application. The active participation of the Panhellenic Association of the Blind as the main representative of the Community of the Blind was indispensable for both the determination of the system specifications and for the evaluation and dissemination of the results.
A standing demand of the community of the Blind was the feasibility of working as efficiently as possible in the new PC environment.
The support of this demand with the appropriate use of the available technology was one of the most important objectives of this project. At the same time, the project was aiming at the extensive usage of a user-friendly interface that was developed in a way such that accessibility to Windows technology is also possible for visually impaired users. The dissemination and usage of this system is estimated to ease off the existing inequality in the job market, contributing to the successful incorporation of these individuals in the general work force. Furthermore, these categories of users will have the possibility to use modern computer and multimedia technology for interacting with national and international sources of information.
Apart from individual users, the system developed by the project was utilized by the existing Schools for the Blind as well as in the special computer technology and informatics courses that are available to the Blind.
The project resulted to the development of a user-friendly interface with the PC Windows environment for visually impaired individuals. The development of such an interface is a very important contribution in the field of human-computer interaction, since it involves an effort made to substitute optical information with acoustic information in the best possible way. All the available messages of the Windows environment were utilized for this purpose, enabling the usage of all the necessary information for the recognition and the topological localization of the verbal elements of the screen, and informing the user about the type and location of the objects (texts, graphics, icons) of the active application.
The adaptation and incorporation of the ILSP / R.C. “Athena” speech synthesis system for Greek in the above mentioned interface promoted and extended the usage of a Greek speech technology system to an application of extreme significance, both from a scientific and from a social aspect.
With the present project the use of the computer and the modern Windows environment is extended in one of the social groups which has difficulties in accessing the new technologies and the large variety of possibilities they offer in respect to information.
The system facilitated the access of visually impaired individuals to the job market, where PC Windows systems are widely used, and it generally contributed to the improvement of their social and professional life. The most important contribution of the project are the long-term benefits it provides to the education of this social group. The utilization of the system by the existing Schools for the Blind gives the opportunity to these citizens to confront the constantly increasing professional requirements, especially the young people.
Respect for the rights of the minorities and the effort to provide for their physical challenges are probably the surest means of evaluating a country’s living standards.