Why such a project?
Why is my project original?
Point of starting
A profitable investment for everybody
My idea begins from a simple observation. There is less marginalization now of the actors of the free software and there is less hostility. It provides real solutions, which can experience an evolution, which are free and where there is some dialogue and which are accessible for sight impaired people in order to make their computer accessible easily and quickly. This element can enable companies, which want to employ impaired people, organizations, public entities and users themselves, to reduce the cost of buying a fleeting product and rather invest in a much reliable value: human capital, the training.
Here I do not defend a philosophical point of view, explaining that the Free Software has as issue the freedom. If this issue really exists, it is not the main priority of people who need a computer for their daily life and who are not prepared, or while they are adapting themselves to their impairment. All the more as reducing the purposes to this category of users has already given to the project a large impact.
An economical context which implies original solutions
The future of the public budgets in developped countries is not great. The budgetary deficjss are enormous, as the debt, so we can anticipate a necessary financial austerity. In France, this movement started, including about impaired people policy: help for suitable hardware is more restricted, the payment conditions to get the public assistance are harder, etc. So a free solution is necessary to low the charge on public budgets and avoid users to have excessive financial charge due to their impairment.
With such saved money, we can re-invest to help the companies, to train, to study and develop in the new technologies. It is exactly the public policy advice given by the Lisbon strategy (European Union, 1997) or the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. It is also, according to some economists such as Jean Pisani-Ferry in 2003, an explanation of about 14% of the increase gap between Europe and United States of America.
The law and the social pressure
Last parameter: the law emergency in some countries. In countries such as France or Belgium, it has been mandatory, since a law of 2005, to make every public-opened place and administrative numerical environment accessible. In France, this has to be done before 2015. This delay is more and more short with years, and the cost is more and more high. As opposed, the budget of the public administrations are more and more reduced, as this of organisations (less donations...). Companies' situation does not enable them to invest in very much, due to the current world context. If saving money is possible about computer issues, the accessibility problem is less important.
Still better: such investment which costs few money can avoid that companies to be submitted to a mandatory tax, imposed by the Law, if they do not employ a certain proportion of impaired people. In France, such tax is for public and private administration. The free software can satisfy two purposes: conform with this rule without spending too money and work time to adapt the environment and make the worker operative quickly, then not paying for the tax. It is an answer to the employers' question: how can I employ an impaired person if, to consider only our situation, I have to spend so money to adapt his environment and train him/her? All the more as if it is needed to customise the screen readers for some professional software.
To make things greater, the employer who employes an impaired person will improve one's outside reputation. The public administrations could have the same privilege too. The evolution of the rules about the impairment (new meaning from the World Wealth Organisation, etc.) sho7s that the society is aware of the need for it to consider differently the impairment. So the rules will not be challenged. Moreover, having an accessibility label is a "good practice" label. As opposed, not employing impaired people or not being accessible for them brings a less famous reputation.
The idea of the solution I propose
So the context enables the free software to be an alternate model to a problematic model, which is too expensive and exclusive whereas the global economy cannot afford with it. The free software is credible as it can help a sight impaired person to access to a computer, via a fully free system (GNU/Linux), or installing on Windows free software.
What does it lack? Four things I think.
Some help to install and set the free software
With free software, adapting a computer costs 50% less expensive: since the software is free, it is needed to pay only for the service (i.e. the number of hours spent for installing, setting the installation and provide a troubleshooting service). It consists in using an experienced support that I can provide to technical professionals or a beginner, to adapt their computer according to their needs.
Indeed, the user may need to be advised when he wants to install and use some free software. The quality warranty is founded on the honesty of the advise about upgrading a system, choosing the most suitable solution, including choosing or not the free software to match to the needs.
Because is the free software suitable for all the situations? Not yet. If the free software enables blind people and sight impaired people to access easily to the mail, Internet, office, multimedia features of a computer, it can be harder for specialized tasks. So it may be honest say to an user or an organisation that the free software can help him in some tasks, some jobs, but not in others. It can also be useful to recommend the most suitable solution for a specific way to work, to integrate it in the existing computing infrastructure, instead of needing change everything.
An interface between the user and the developpers' community
Various situations exist and have to be discussed today.
First, a lot of challenges come in the future for accessibility, including in the free software. There are much information in the community and an advanced eye can help to understand better things, because if the future has a lot of opportunities, a superficial approach could make users worry and disappointed.
Then, as the free software does not cover perfectly all the needs, it may be useful to know who contact, what ask, where search... Reporting a bug can be a complex task. First because the technical dialogue with the community can be complex, in particular for non-English-speaking users. Then because the community is large and some experience is needed not to loose time and be disappointed.
These problems imply an interface that I propose to be. Some projects can be started in the community, but so investment is for the long time. A company can ask for the starting of a project and I can search for those who would agree with doing it to suit to the company's needs. It is also possible to report a problem and be helped by the community to write an accessibility script, few expensive thanks to the community effort. Having a free software enables you to submit any program to any developper who can write adaptation scripts to professional software. It enables to invest in the training of the workers, which then are more productive.
It is one of the main purpose of this project. It is for several levels. On the first, there is training users. Noawadays, there is few basic documentation for free software in accessibility. Few tutorials are written. I try to solve this problem training the users for using a computer with suitable solutions for sight impaired people. More marginally, I can also train users on using a computer with GNU/Linux.
On another level, it is useful and it makes part of the free software philosophy that technical professionals to know to use the software in order to do what they want with it. So I propose to train computing staff of a company about how work the accessibility tools for blind and sight impaired people. In particular, it is possible to train them in order to show them the approach of an impaired people of a machine.
On a last level, the sight impaired organisations or the organisations which work with sight impaired people (re-learning life, prefessional re-integrating), take an important place. As they help for the redeployment of sight impaired, they can help users choosing and using the free software. For this, their workers or volunteers can wish a training to train the users. I also propose this service.
This project is original due to the nature of its way of work. Based on free software, the customer only pays for a service he gets: training, help, advise times. I try to promote these solutions, if, and only if, and in the measure that, they give a service to the users. This project is a warranty for everyone is interested in the free solutions but does not want to try because they are not supported, trained, helped. It provides to institutions a warranty if there is a problem using free accessible solutions, someone to speak with for advise, help and an intervention to make his dialogue easier with the community. The permanence of the project is possible because I am not submitted to a profitability issue. If I win nothing, I do not have to pay for anything, and if I win so much, I can change my status.
So this project hopes to bring what lacks to enable the free software to be tried at least as solution to adapt, without too money, a computer and hence, speed up re-integrating and integrating blind and sight impaired people in our society.