Nawar Halabi has very kindly provided an introductory video of the Arabic version of ATbar that we have uploaded to YouTube.
This month has been an extremely busy one with a new wiki for information about the ATbar, the plugins and ATkit framework supporting documents. By using a wiki we can make sure the Arabic version is truly going from right to left with easier translations. Not all the plugins have been translated into Arabic but this is ongoing.
We have added a Services area – this has the initial spell checking support service, allowing users to login and add words have not been offered with corrections. It is hoped this will help those using the Arabic spell checker as we know this is not offering the best corrections at present.
Nawar has worked on the desktop toolbar for Arabic users and this is now available for beta testing. It has four functions: an onscreen keyboard, a screen reader, a magnifier and colour overlays. Please become a beta tester and download the desktop toolbar from Github. This toolbar is very much ‘work in progress’! If you want to join the team in testing and wish to know more about this work please visit our project blog.
There is much work to be done to improve features on the toolbar and to increase the number of Arabic plugins. We would very much like to encourage developers to join us in making more plugins and to help the team with this endeavour. New ideas can be discussed on the groups we have set up or on the Realise website.
ATbar has been rewritten to cope with English and Arabic languages thanks to Mada (Qatar Assistive Technology Center). There is a standard Lite version and a build your own version. Plugins can be added to an empty ATbar to offer users a customisable approach to enhanced reading of accessible web pages.
The standard ATbar Lite is a bookmark that can be dragged to the browser toolbar (or added to favorites). It has a set collection of plugins. Fonts can be enlarged, their style changed with increased line spacing to aid readability.
There is a spell checker and dictionary. Text to speech for reading selected text uses a female Acapela voice in both languages. The use of Readability reduces clutter on a web page and word prediction comes thanks to AItype. It works with all plain text edit boxes.
The entire look and feel of an accessible web page can be changed to offer high contrast mode with linear text or just colour changes to the text and links. The toolbar colour can be changed. It is possible to reset pages and exit the toolbar at anytime. When a new web page is loaded the toolbar has to be relaunched.
To customise your own ATbar go to the marketplace and install the required plugins – the toolbar can be saved and used in a similar way to the Lite version.
The ATbar Marketplace has begun development. The Marketplace looks to offer users the ability to create their own toolbar using any number of plugins available.
There will be new plugins such as Google and Wikipedia searching, Google translate and hopefully a new TTS engine.
ATbar is now available as a WordPress Plugin. It is simple to install and allows the website owner to select whether the toolbar is persistent or not (active on all pages).
Future versions look to include the option to exclude the toolbar on specific pages as well as a widget (sidebar) option for greater flexibility.