Monday, 4 February 2008

Blog: 4Free4All comes a bit nearer.

This last week has been pretty good for us and our free software cause. From Florida came a grand announcement that the Serotek Corporation too have launched one of their internet products as a freeby, SA2GO. There is a good deal of detailed information at which is the Serotek blog site. The AIR Foundation boldly states that “accessibility is a fundamental human right, regardless of financial or geographic constraints”. So now blind and partially sighted computer users worldwide have more free software at their fingertips as well as our Thunder and WebbIE.

But I was much more excited on Thursday to have access to an Apple notebook with Leopard installed. If that means nothing to you then read on and share my excitement.

Leopard is the latest Apple operating system and it comes with good quality and usable speech built in. I was able to listen to iTunes without special scripts or fuss. And then I discovered the magnification potential which is stunning. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, hold down the Control Key and move the mousewheel to control the level of magnification. With my old level of seeing I would have killed for that facility. But the greatest Apple gift this time round for me was that, when I plugged in my Alva Braille Display, Oh yes, it just worked and that is the tops.

So let’s look forward to this free access thing booming and its wonderful to know that we are not the only ones in the business. Our Thunder software is stable, efficient and innovative but we don’t mind at all being pushed to greater achievements by others with a similar mission and we are delighted that our users have a growing choice of free software.

Thunder already has five languages under its belt and well over 70,000 people have downloaded it. On Friday, out of the blue, came an offer to begin translation into Turkish…and so it goes on. Slowly but surely, there is a realisation that the costly traditional screenreader solutions have made a marvellous contribution to computer access for blind people but…and this takes nothing away from their achievement…its now getting time for 4Free4All and not just the elitist few receiving Government or charitable support to enjoy the computer age.