Fosdem O'Reilly
2004 Edition Free and Open Source Software Developer's European Meeting


2004-02-16 - Gunnar Schmi Dt


An interview conducted by Alain Buret
FOSDEM - First and traditional question : Please present yourself

Gunnar Schmi Dt - My name is Gunnar Schmi Dt. Currently I am a graduate student of computer science at the University of Paderborn. In my spare time I work on KDE Accessibility.

FOSDEM - Your last name is spelled uncommonly.

Gunnar Schmi Dt - My official last name is "Schmidt". However, in Germany that name is so commen that I use the spelling "Schmi Dt" in non-official situations.

FOSDEM - How and when did you start working in the KDE Accessibility Project ?

Gunnar Schmi Dt - Since a few years my mother has an illness that leads to her being able to do less as time continues. In 2002 she lost her voice because of that illness. So I started to write an application that passes sentences that were typed by the user to a text-to-speech system. As my favorite desktop is KDE I naturally wrote that as a KDE application.

At that time the KDE Accessibility Project only consisted of a mailing list where only a few mails per month were sent to from people who thought that KDE needs accessibility but who had not the time to do something themselves.

As an other programmer, Pupeno, announced on that mailing list a speech-daemon for KDE (which passes its texts via plug in to the actual tts-systems) I suggested that the two projects should work together. From then on we had some active developers in the KDE Accessibility Project.

FOSDEM - What do you consider as a major lack in the accessibility world ? What's the missing feature that should be added first, not especially in KDEAP, but in general ?

Gunnar Schmi Dt - Well, in the accessibility community we currently have some very good approaches to answer the main accessibility needs. With the framework around AT-SPI, Gnopernicus, GOK and other assistive technologies for both KDE and GNOME much has been reached.

What is yet to be done is to add the support for AT-SPI to more toolkits and applications (although for Qt and KDE that is currently worked on), and to make the existing software much more stable.

Of course there is always the possibility that some features are missing but that will be seen when persons with individual needs are using the accessibility tools.

FOSDEM - Do you interact with other project, like GNOME Accessibility Project ?

Gunnar Schmi Dt - Yes, one of the main goals of our project is to ensure that we do not have multiple different architectures for accessibility needs on the Linux desktop. For example we cooperate closely with Bill Haneman from the GNOME Accessibility team. We are also in contact with Trolltech developers who are writing the bridge from the Qt Accessibility Framework to ATK. (A first snapshot is already available.)

FOSDEM - Introduce in few words what you're going to talk about during your presentation ...

Gunnar Schmi Dt - In my talk on Saturday afternoon I will talk about the Qt Accessibility Framework and the bridge to ATK. Part of that talk will be an overview of the architecture around ATK and AT-SPI, but I will also show the impact of the accessibility architectures when writing KDE applications.

During the tutorial on Sunday afternoon I will show which accessibility features are currently available on the current KDE 3.2.

FOSDEM - What are you expecting from your talk at FOSDEM and from the interactions with other developers present at the event ?

Gunnar Schmi Dt - Well, it is always difficult to say what to expect from a conference where you give a talk. However, I would wish that many developers get more aware of accessibility needs.


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