Internet Access Open: LUWRAIN Technology Helps Blind Users

    Stepping into the future and expanding the boundaries of its capabilities, mankind not only improves technologies, but also makes them more accessible. Modern smartphones and computers are sophisticated devices, but most people use them easily thanks to simple, intuitive control systems such as Windows or Android.

    Unfortunately, not all information systems are adapted for people whose health capabilities do not allow using all 5 methods of perception.

    Blind and deaf-blind people, until recently, could not fully use the majority of communication tools. According to statistics, only one in 20 people with visual impairments can use a computer.

    However, technological solutions of the rehabilitation industry made touch-sensitive smartphones available, replaced keyboards with braille displays, allowed the blind to control the system with their voice, and those who neither see nor hear can read information tactilely.

    One of these tools is currently being developed by the Tomsk team of LUWRAIN programmers. The developers of the project set an ambitious goal - to provide the ability to work with a computer for people with visual impairments, including completely blind and deaf-deaf users.

    LUWRAIN is a user environment written in Java in which non-visual methods of human interaction with a computer are involved. Feedback in it is carried out by voice or, if necessary, through the Braille display.

    The platform is designed as a distribution and includes a sufficient and expandable set of applications with which a blind person can easily interact with his computer.

    LUWRAIN supports TXT, HTML, DOC, DOCX, XLSX and reads HTML and PDF without feedback. Thus, the platform allows a person to work with most text documents, study pages on the Internet and communicate on the Web without using eyesight.

    The development team of LUWRAIN is led by a scientist from Tomsk State University Mikhail Pozhidaev, who completely lost his eyesight during his student years due to an incurable disease. To continue his studies at the Faculty of Informatics, he developed for himself a special program that allows him to freely interact with a computer.

    Now, having successfully completed his studies, Mikhail wants to help other people. His student program has become a working prototype of the future LUWRAIN, which has been under development for more than ten years.

    Using the created platform, the scientist maintains a page on Vkontakte, communicates with friends, and also negotiates with the administration of the social network. The fact is that Vkontakte is currently processing conversations using the recently released VK.ME messenger, and so far, access to dialogs in LUWRAIN has been granted to Mikhail only as an application administrator.

    Together with the developers of the social network, Michael wants to work out the correct sequence of actions when processing dialogs. This will avoid unnecessary work.

    “The activity of the community here would be very appropriate, because it is important for companies to know all the mechanisms that can allow people with visual impairments to communicate. There are a lot of questions on the topic of whether spam will not be sent through the communication mechanisms of the blind, ”the developer himself explained.

    On May 23, an updated version of LUWRAIN was released, in which the user content and logic were rewritten under JavaScript. In Java, there remains a common framework for applications, including controls.

    Now users of the program and interested developers, if necessary, will be able to independently make changes to the program code, adjusting it to personal needs and preferences. Valid scripts can be found in the sources in the extensions / js directory and in the distribution in app / data / js.

    Working with JavaScript involves using a mechanism that the developer calls hooks. This is some kind of linking point between Java code and JavaScript code, when Java code delegates some of its work to a hook. After conducting a series of experiments, the creators decided that such a concept was the most elegant and convenient for further development.

    The purpose of the hook and the interpretation of its work depends on the nature of the application. It allows you to adjust the pronunciation of the text, facilitates interaction with the Internet. In particular, JavaScript implements the ability to query on Wikipedia and read the response.

    Error screens and information about files in the commander are also provided by hooks, while reading mail, hooks arrange letters in chains and put them in folders.

    The current version for Windows is now packaged in a self-extracting distribution.

    That is, it is enough to run the LUWRAIN file and it will automatically install on the computer and will be launched. In the future, you can work with it like with a regular program - run it through the Start menu or desktop, and delete it using the Control Panel.

    In turn, a script is available for Linux that downloads and unpacks the latest version.

    In the updated version of LUWRAIN, separate copies of the registry are now being created to update data in it with a loss of compatibility. For the user, this is seen as a new installation of the program, but at the same time all the old settings are saved.

    In the near future, developers plan to refine the reading and viewing of documents, making them even more intuitive and convenient. The player will also be improved, with automation of listening to audio books, as well as working with text files.

    The updated version of LUWRAIN is completely free and is already available for download on the official website of the project.

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