Breaking news - Chess and the Blind

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Breaking news - Chess and the Blind

Post by adams161 » Sun Dec 15, 2019 12:17 am

Accessibility is in the news these days. A case against dominoes pizza parlor is going to the Supreme Court in USA on if they need to make their web site accessible to the blind. I came across the issue in April of this year when a blind chess player contacted me asking if i could make my arrows for forward and backward readable by voice over. Now he told me my app was still usable as he could make moves and i had a reset board button he could use to start over but being able to just go backward one would be even nicer.

I got some system in place for the blind to use my arrows adding an extra menu for it and inquired what would really make a chess app accessible. And Stefano who I would later learn is the Secretary of the Italian Blind Chess Federation explained to me what makes an accessible Chess app. And it needs an accessible board and speak move on iOS so your board squares can be read by the screen reader Voice Over and if they tap them speak similar to how a button reads out its text. See 99% of the chess apps that board is one big image that says nothing. I discovered this for anyone interested in accessibility for how to make DrawRect Accessible. See you can make a view group of your 64 squares and set up text based on which is tapped.

But that would not be enough. In April Stefano began mentioning could we get it translated into Italian. Initially i shrugged it off. Let them speak english i figured you want to use my apps. But Stefano explained that many in his Italian Blind Federation don't know English only Italian and could not use my apps even though i had made them accessible which is rare by itself. Well i was like drat i'll see what i can do and got a friend Andrey to start the first translation of OpeningTree writing localization code for Italian and we released an early version. Well Andrey wasn't going to keep doing my work so I took over localization and we translated now Lantern Chess into Italian. I had promised all 3 in Italian but had got a job so delayed on Pulsar.

There i've done it. His Italian friends can now use at least 2 of my apps. Well on august 19th i received an email from a blind Spanish chess player named Val. And it was not the greatest mail from my second blind user so far. He found my apps difficult to use for the blind with voice over in ways and in particular the language issue, they were not in Spanish was hard. Well i fixed his bugs and again I enlisted Andrey who knew some Spanish to do the Initial translation of OpeningTree into Spanish. But again he didn't want to keep doing my work for me and i found a translation service, And proceeded to get all 3 apps finally translated into Spanish, French and Italian. Well Italian for Stefano and his friends and Spanish now for Val and it turns out there is no Spanish Blind Mailing list they use the French. Well I wanted Stefano to announce to the blind mailing lists we were accessible and translated and felt i could not let him use the French list and not also be translated into French so i paid for French and did the work.

Today Stefano writes me:
Hi Mike,
Three emails have been sent to different mailing lists.
As by this email they have been forwarded to other lists.
This is the spanish version, and I’m sending you french and italian too.
Google translation seemed good to me, and I only corrected them with the correct chess terms for moves and games.

So we are finally announced internationally 4 months after Val's mail that we are accessible to the blind currently in three languages other than English.

Only major apps i've seen made accessible are Schredder, in English and German, and Chess Analyze this in English and Russian. I guess i don't know for sure but Pulsar Chess Engine, or Openingtree - Chess Openings or Lantern Chess and Icc interface maybe be some of the first accessible apps for the blind translated into some of these languages. It's a rare honor but it's one I don't have to hold onto forever. I want to again encourage anyone interested into also making their chess apps accessible to check out this fairly simple and easy to use web page on how to do it.

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Re: Breaking news - Chess and the Blind

Post by adams161 » Sun Dec 15, 2019 2:10 am

Just for reference the mail that was sent in three languages is:
Dear chess friends,
Those who read English will have heard about these applications:
Pulsar, Opening Tree and Lantern Chess. These three applications are
accessible thanks to VoiceOver, the Apple IOS screen reader. The
Novelty is that they have been translated into French, Spanish and Italian.

Pulsar is a chess engine that can also play some variants,
Chess960 included. There are several levels of strength, the lowest allow
Even a beginner has fun.

Opening Tree is a database of recent chess moves with
345,000 games of strong players, with an Elo score of 2300 or more.
Even if there are only plays, there is no other reference to games, it is
possible to move along the most fashionable lines, having for each play the
score (number of games won, tied or lost). As well
you can compare your games with this database and save the variant that
He is interested. The moves can also be made and then analyzed with the
Free Crafty engine.
Lantern Chess: an interface for ICC is an interface for Internet Chess
Club. It is a well-known Internet chess server, where you can play,
watch games (often very strong players), practice tactics or finals,
participate in lessons, etc. All in an accessible way, thanks to this

One of the owners of ICC, Martin Grund, generously offered a
6-month free subscription to all blind players.

The author of these applications is the American Michael Adams. Michael
He is a very good person and immediately became passionate about accessibility.

To request the free six months at ICC, you can also write to me and
I will explain how to do it.
Stefano Murgia

I deleted emails from the post. The english of this post is curtesy of google translate.

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Re: Breaking news - Chess and the Blind

Post by adams161 » Sun Dec 15, 2019 10:07 am

I let Stefano know i posted here and linked and thought i'd share his response because it spreads some of the credit around for accessibility with his mentioning Winboard which has a version accessible to the blind.
Btw one of the moderators for Talkchess is HGMuller... HGM delivered the only accessible version of Winboard. On pcs WB for Jaws and NVDA is almost the only chess software a totally blind person can use with screenreaders. There is no good chess software working for Mac.


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Full name: Rasmus Althoff

Re: Breaking news - Chess and the Blind

Post by Ras » Sun Dec 15, 2019 10:32 am

How do you do the translations? Is there some sort of text file with predefined strings for each language?
Rasmus Althoff

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Re: Breaking news - Chess and the Blind

Post by adams161 » Sun Dec 15, 2019 10:38 am

Yea that's the idea. There is a string file with things like:
"hello" = "Hola";

what's on left, hello is my key, I just used the english as the key. I found by using the english as my key i didn't have to write an english table. it just used what was on the left for english. Translation files are kept in folder in the project that start with es. it. and fr. in my case. Special shout out to andrey who i said started the first translated version of openingtree. He researched this and set it up. I only had to extend.

so in code we had to add to every setText(), something like this, setText(NSLocalizedString(@"Hello", @"some description"));

Once the first translation of all 3 iOS apps was done in Italian, which Stefano translated and yes he is blind but he is a great translator, I had written all the setTexts to setText(localizedString()), and i just had to add string tables for new languages, no code support. The one exception is stuff that doesnt fit. I found French had a number of longer things than i expected.

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