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pVoice - Using Perl to Enable the Disabled
Jouke Visser, Senior Developer, Booking.com

Track: Emerging Topics
Date: Wednesday, July 28
Time: 4:30pm - 5:15pm
Location: Columbia


Most people use Perl for webdevelopment, data munging or system administration. There is so much more you can do with Perl...

In 2001, Visser's daughter needed a piece of software that enabled her to speak. Because of her severe disability, she could not use a mouse, a keyboard, nor her voice to operate a computer. Existing commercial software was either too limited or too difficult to operate. Therefore, Visser started developing pVoice: communications (speech) software for disabled children, written in Perl.

In this talk, Visser explains what the software does, the difficulties he's come across, and how you can help! Says Visser, "I intend to make the audience enthusiastic about using their programming skills for making life easier and more fun for our disabled fellow-human. Lots of fun, open-source projects exist, but hardly any are useable for people who are 'physically challenged.'" Visser describes the inspiration for this project: "By the end of the year 2000, my disabled daughter Krista was in need of a way of communicating with the outside world, because she couldn't speak. At that time, she was five years old. Looking for suitable devices or software was one big disappointment, because all available devices and software were either too hard too use or to limited in their possibilities. Therefore I decided to write my own communicationssoftware for her, in Perl, using an attractive GUI (first Tk, currently Wx). At the time of the conference I will have released a set of modules on CPAN that can be used to easily create software that can be used by severely disabled people, using only 2 mouse buttons (or other devices)."

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