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Category: FP7

The AEGIS Consortium released the fourth issue of its Newsletter. The special focus of this fourth issue is on AEGIS’ 1st International Conference & 2nd Pan-European Workshop/User Forum, as well as on the new release of odt2braille software package developed within our project. They also feature an interview with the member of AEGIS’s Advisory Board, Prof. Gregg Vanderheiden, Director of Trace R&D Center University of Wisconsin-Madison. And as always, the articles in this issue present the ongoing work, experiences, accomplishments, and lessons learned by the AEGIS partners. An overview of past and forthcoming events where the project has or will be featured is also presented.

The main aim of this Coordination Action is to improve the overall success of Challenge 7 ICT 2009 7.2 ‘Accessible and Assistive ICT’ by drafting research agenda road-maps that highlight research priorities that will favour eAccessibility.
It aims to do this by looking into the wide range of issues that play a role in the availability of accessible and assistive ICT. The issues range from future research priorities, development and design aspects, right through to making the business case and the adoption or non-adoption of a particular technology or service.

One of the main tasks of the project will be to generate research agenda road-maps that identify the research topics that will require support in the short, medium and long term, both in terms of raising awareness and additional funding for research activities.

The research agenda road-maps are to be generated in consultation with all the relevant stakeholders (users, user organisations, industry, researchers, regulators, standardisation bodies, government agencies, European Commission, etc.). The consultation will be carried out through meetings, seminars, publications, wikis and workshops. One of the techniques at the heart of this consultation is the Structured Dialogic Design Process (SDDP), which is basically a structured methodology for harnessing the collective wisdom of a wide range of stakeholders (see overleaf for further explanations).
These events will be a key opportunity for all stakeholders to influence future research priorities and agendas. If you would be interested in participating in this consultation process or in one of these SDDP co-laboratories, please make contact at info@cardiac-eu.org. Further information can be found at: www.cardiac-eu.org.

Main Events

  • 1st SDDP on “Technology Transfer”, 28-30 October 2010, in Cyprus
  • 2nd SDDP on “Inclusive Human-Machine Interaction”, June 2011, Spain
  • 3rd SDDP on “Network-based Applications”, May 2012, Florence
  • Final Event & SSDP, January 2013.

The major aim of the CARDIAC Coordination Action (Coordination action in R&D in accessible and assistive ICT) is to improve the overall success of Challenge 7 ICT 2009 7.2 Accessible and Assistive ICT. It will assist those involved in the research aspects of Challenge 7 by identifying the research and development that is needed in this field, both immediately and in the near future, by raising the level of knowledge and understanding of Accessible and Assistive ICT and by stimulating companies, research institutions and individual experts to become involved in this important area. The Coordination Action will support the corresponding STREP and IP projects in this research area, creating a knowledge network between them.
More information is available on the project website.

We would like to make you aware of a series of planning meetings and networking opportunities that are occurring at the end of this month – and the beginning of the next – and to invite you to participate as you are able.
An international consortium of people and programs has begun to form with the intention of creating enhancements to the global broadband (wired and wireless) infrastructure to facilitate access by people who would otherwise face barriers due to disability, literacy or aging.
The goal of the group is to bring together cloud, web and platform technologies to create National and Global Public Inclusive Infrastructures that could make access simpler and more affordable, while addressing the needs of groups not adequately served today. It would build up and expand what we have today and enable new types of accessibility and extended-usability technologies and services.
More information about the basic concepts and components of National and Global Public Inclusive Infrastructures can be found at http://NPII.org.
The NPII/GPII concept is not a wholly new concept. Rather, it is a combination and extension of many different existing efforts. Yet it brings them together in a way that has the potential to fundamentally change what is possible and practical.

European Organizational Meetings
The meetings at the end of this month are intended to bring together people who are interested in the concept — and in developing it within Europe. If you are interested in participating in this effort, we hope you will be able to join one of the meetings listed below.
If you are unable to attend any of the meetings but are still interested – let us know by sending an email to join@NPII.org. We will be holding a teleconference call/meeting in late Oct/November for those who cannot make any of these meetings. Also feel free to pass this invitation on to others who may be interested.

The following four meetings have been scheduled:

  • In Brussels at ICT 2010, 28 Sept. (Tuesday), 12:30 – 2:00 PM – An ad hoc networking meeting on NPII/GPII, to be held between the two networking sessions on Aging and Built-In Accessibility. Because space is limited to 25 persons, this meeting must be by invitation only, with first priority to related EC projects in the field. To indicate your interest in being part of this meeting, send an email to join@NPII.org.
  • In Beaulieu (EC Offices), 29-30 Sept. (Wed. – Thursday) – An extended meeting titled “A Networking, Exploration, and Planning Session On Development of a European and Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure” will provide a longer working period to explore a collaborative European effort in this area.
    This meeting will begin on 29 Sept. at 2:00 PM, ending at 7:00 PM. It will continue on 30 Sept. at 9:00 AM, ending at 6:00 PM.
    The European Commission has provided a venue for the meeting at their Beaulieu offices in Brussels.
    This will be an open meeting. Anyone who is interested in working toward a European and or Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure is invited.
    For security reasons, registration is required. The deadline to sign up is 21 Sept.
    To register, send an email to join@NPII.org with: (1) your name, (2) company or organizational affiliation, and (3) email address. Indicate your desire to attend the 29-30 Sept. meeting. [Note: we understand that due to travel arrangements – not everyone will be able to attend both days.]
    We are exploring the possibility of participation in the meeting by phone. If you cannot attend in person, but wish to participate by phone, please send an email to join@NPII.org with your request to be included by phone, if it becomes available.
  • In Madrid at Technosite, 5 Oct. (Tues.) – A workshop at Technosite will consist of a presentation followed by discussion.
  • In Seville at AEGIS Conference, 7-8 Oct. (Thurs.-Friday) – The AEGIS Conference will feature a keynote presentation of the NPII concept and roadmap. There will be opportunities for informal networking, with the possibility of a “birds of the feather” meeting sometime during the conference.

There will also be a teleconference late in October or November for those who are interested in working toward an NPII or the GPII, in Europe – (or elsewhere in the world) – but are unable to participate in one of the meetings listed above. Please indicate your interest in participating in such a teleconference by sending an email to join@NPII.org.

This year, for the first time ever, the Ambient Assisted Living Forum (AAL Forum) 2010 will be preceded by an Investment Forum. Ambient Assisted Living products and services are ICT-based solutions, such as in-home monitoring devices or telemedicine systems, which help seniors remain independent, active and socially connected for a longer time. The AAL Investment Forum aims to stimulate more innovation and investment in AAL by bringing together innovative ICT enterprises in the Ageing Well market with potential public and private investors. A key activity will be a matchmaking session where innovators can pitch their smart solutions to potential investors.
Source: http://www.aal-invest.eu/

Leuven, Belgium, 4 August 2010 – The Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (K.U.Leuven) today released an extension for OpenOffice.org Writer that enables users to save documents as Braille or to send them directly to a Braille embosser. “odt2braille” (http://odt2braille.sourceforge.net/) is a freeware extension for OpenOffice.org, a office suite that is freely available for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux/Unix and Solaris.
Due to the emergence of technologies such as audio books and synthetic speech on PCs in the last few decades the proportion of blind persons who know Braille has decreased. Some people consider Braille as an arcane system that will become marginalised or replaced by audio books and synthetic speech. Nevertheless, Braille is still important: it is not only a reading system but also a writing system, and its defenders maintain that teaching Braille to blind children is important for the development of functional literacy. Braille is also indispensable for persons who are deaf-blind.
odt2braille is available for Microsoft Windows (XP, Vista and Windows 7), and will later also become available for Mac OS X and Linux/Unix. The current version of odt2braille supports eight Braille embossers, and additional embossers will be added later. One of the supported embossers is the Elekul, which was developed at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven by Prof. Dr. Guido François, and which was the first system that could emboss Braille on both sides of the same sheet of paper.
odt2braille is being developed in the context of the ÆGIS project, a research & development project supported by the European Commission. The ÆGIS project develops software for persons with disabilities, covering the desktop platform, the Web (“Rich Internet Applications”, i.e. web-based applications that provide user interfaces and functionality that were formerly only available on the desktop) and mobile devices. In November 2009, the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven released another OpenOffice.org extension in the context of the ÆGIS project: odt2daisy (http://odt2braille.sourceforge.net/), an OpenOffice.org Writer extension that converts text documents to audio books in the DAISY format.

Downloading and Using odt2braille
odt2braille can be downloaded from http://odt2braille.sourceforge.net/. This website also contains installation instructions and a manual.
odt2braille is suited to both Braille experts and occasional Braille users. In addition to converting text documents to Braille, it also allows users to directly input Braille in a document. In other words, users can determine which specific Braille codes should be transferred to paper. The keys S, D, F, J, K and L can be used to simulate the keys on a Braille keyboard.
More importantly, text documents can be converted to Braille automatically. This type of conversion can also be done with other — typically commercial — applications, but odt2braille has important advantages:
Firstly, the whole process runs in a single environment, i.e. OpenOffice.org:

  • creating the document,
  • formatting the document (including both rich formatting for traditional printing and basic formatting for Braille),
  • printing and/or embossing the document.

Secondly, all data are saved in a single file:

  • the content,
  • the formatting for print (for sighted users),
  • and the formatting for Braille.

Consequently, there are no separate versions but a single document, which avoids synchronisation issues between several versions of the same document.
The new functionality is available through the “Braille” menu, which is added to OpenOffice.org Writer when odt2braille is installed.
The Braille conversion is an intuitive process and the output can be tailored by the user. Users with little or no Braille experience can rely on the existing Braille conventions. In this case the Braille conversion requires very little user interaction. odt2braille is also suited to experienced Braille users who prefer to use their own formatting conventions.
The list of supported Braille embossers is still limited and consists of certain models by Interpoint NV (i.e. Elekul), Index Braille and Braillo Norway AS.
It is also possible to export documents to computer files that can be read by other Braille software. In this way, Braille conversion and embossing can be separated in time, and the user can still modify the Braille document before sending it to the embosser.

Open-Source Software
odt2braille, odt2daisy and most other software developed in the ÆGIS project are or will be available as “open-source software”. This means that users will not only be able to download the finished product but also the programming code or “source code”. They can also modify and improve the source code, provided that they make their changes available to the developers or the community that maintains the software. This process enables a community of users to make improvements to the software and enables these improvements to be quickly available to other users.

About OpenOffice.org
Several partners in the ÆGIS project are making contributions to OpenOffice.org, including Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and Oracle. The OpenOffice.org Community is an international team of volunteer and sponsored contributors who develop, translate, support, and promote the leading open source office productivity suite, OpenOffice.org. OpenOffice.org’s leading edge software technology (UNO) is also available for developers, systems integrators, etc. to use in OpenOffice.org extensions or in their own applications.
OpenOffice.org uses the OpenDocument Format OASIS Standard (ISO/IEC 26300) as well as supporting legacy file formats such as Microsoft Office, and is available on major computing platforms in over 100 languages. OpenOffice.org software is provided under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) and may be used free of charge for any purpose, private or commercial.
The OpenOffice.org Community acknowledges generous sponsorship from a number of companies, including Oracle, the founding sponsor and primary contributor. OpenOffice.org is considered by Public administrations and people working at all levels of government (local / federal / regional / national etc.) as their ideal software solution.