This article describes the plans for OATS (Open-source Assistive Technology Software), the development of the first open-source software repository and forge dedicated to Assistive Technology (AT).
Web-based, OATS will provide a one-stop “shop” for end users, clinicians and open-source developers to meet, exchange notes, promote new ideas, develop new software and download reliable open-source AT software.
Initially, the OATS Project is a one-year pilot project finishing in March 2006. If successful, its exit strategy will be for it to become a self-supporting, on-going web-based service for end users, AT professionals, and open-source developers.
Via its repository or library the project will make existing OATS more accessible by:
- Listing software in a central web-based database
- Offering simple and easy methods to find appropriate software
- Standardising the downloading and installation of software
- Providing a level of quality assurance to guide potential end users
Via its forge or “dating agency” the project will also encourage the development of innovative OATS by:
- Attracting volunteer software developers
- Developing new AT software based on specific user needs
- Providing a dynamic discussion forum for users and open-source developers
Other Benefits for end users of AT:
The definition of OATS will be extended to embrace copyright-free material:
- Symbol and picture libraries
- Software resources such as grid sets and user configurations
The repository will also allow users of AT to find software that, although not open-source, is nevertheless free
- Any software license where the end software is made available to a user at no cost will be included
- More emphasis will be given to software that is on its way to being open-sourced