Not going to let this drop ...


Steve Holden

If you have a few minutes to read this message you might just be able to
make a big difference to the lives of some very disadvantaged people. If
you can't help, don't worry. Sorry for bothering you. There's a project
that needs help.

The chuzer project is moribund (the rest of this message explains what
it is). I accept responsibility for that. I have had a lot on my plate
recently, but everything is relative, and my information from other
sources tells me that some recipients of this email have far worse
problems than I.

Paul McNett said in a recent email "this seems like too noble a project
to die", and I agree with him. It seems to me that a really quite small
amount of development time could see us producing a system that would
add a huge amount to the lives of some of the most needy people we can

Or not. Frankly, it's the imagining that scares me. I am having real
difficulty imagining what it might be like to be in a position where I
can't easily tell someone what I need. The chuzer project will allow
severely disabled people to express the most basic needs. Maybe "what I
want for pudding" wasn't a particularly good example, but it was the one
the project was motivated by, and it's hard to think how frustrating it
must be when being able to tell someone what you want for pudding
represents an improvement in your quality of life.

There are quadriplegics out there with such a limited range of
expressive ability that the only way they can express any choice at all
is to watch a series of selections tick by until the right one comes up,
and then puff into a pipe or bite down on something - basically, perform
one of the very few movements of which they are capable - to say "that's
what I want". Yes, it might be "what I want for pudding", but how about
even more basic choices:

a) I need to pee
b) I have to take a dump
c) I am hungry
d) I am thirsty
e) Please hug me
f) My bedsores are hurting

The big problem for a lot of quadriplegics, as far as I understand it,
is that uninformed people treat them as though their brains were as
damaged as their bodies. Most readers of this email will be able-bodied.
Please try and imagine what it would be like to be entombed in a
full-body plaster cast and be unable to speak, but to still retain your
full mental faculties. Don't you think you might really appreciate even
something as simple as a choice program?

I was intending to try and recruit assistance at PyCon, but sadly on the
Saturday I received news of my mother's death, so that kind of put the
kibosh on that, and I had to leave early. I also recently realized
rather too late that this project would be an excellent candidate for a
Google Summer of Code project, but that's already underway now. Again, I
apologize for not having the time to bring chuzer to enough people's
attention to get it on the GSoc radar. My bad.

I don't know if Google are planning to run a Highly-Open Participation
event this year, but if they are then maybe we could establish a few
tasks for that.

Basically this is a project that really needs some help right now.
There's a basic working model, around which an image-selection and
audio-recording infrastructure needs to be built so that it's easy for
carers to set up appropriate choices and easy for users to indicate
choices. It's not rocket science, it just needs a few of us to care
enough to keep moving this project forward until it's done. It would
make an excellent wxPython learning project.

If anyone who reads this email has anything to offer - time, money,
equipment, whatever, I'd be *really* grateful to hear from them. I can
put you in touch with people who know about things like the range of
interface devices available for paraplegic and quadriplegic people.
Ideally the program would be adaptable to a wide range of hardware
accommodating a broad spectrum of disability, but many quadriplegics use
equipment that emulates a standard keyboard and/or mouse, so that would
be a great start.

Please help, even if only by publicizing this project. You don't even
have to code, just to help with ideas for recruiting coding assistance.

Even better, please join the mailing list linked on the site, and help
to make the world a better place.


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