Monday, 13 August 2012

3D Crosswords for the Blind

I'm working on a crossword puzzle game for the visually impaired. The aim is to enable a blind solver to complete three dimensional crosswords without needing guidance from elsewhere. To that end, it's fully voiced using computer generated speech, and everything can be got at through keyboard shortcuts.

The main task ahead is to improve usability. Luckily I have blind friends who are willing to test drive the software. There will be a text tutorial using accessible section headers, supported by a list of controls and audio/video quick starts.

The software itself is written in C++, using Qt. I found that different screenreaders tended to all act differently, probably because their underlying implementations were proprietary and non-standard, so I opted for using SAPI to add voice support, which is appropriate for such a text-oriented game.

A few popular two dimensional crossword formats are supported as well.

Qt is great to use, the verbose API makes it easy to use, and the Qt Creator IDE and UI Designer were really well integrated. Using Qt also helps make it cross platform. Qt 5 is also coming out soon, and QML will play a bigger role, which is definitely a sign of the times, and yet another good reason to pick up JavaScript.

In other news, I came third out of third year student applicants in the Search for a Star competition, in the 'Rising Star' category. So I'm pleased about that... but hopefully it'll go even better next year!

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