A few months ago some of the members of Edmug made noises that they wanted to work on a project that allowed them to give back to the community (a greater community than just the developer one we know so well). After mentioning this to some people in Microsoft, we were hooked up with a group that was looking for some software to be built and the Kassandra project was born. These folks are teachers and administrators at a school that helps educate people with learning disabilities such as dyslexia. When we were initially connected they were teaching some of their dyslexic students to read using a mixture of symbols, colours and letters.
Until we got involved these good folks were translating entire documents of text into these images by hand. I can’t begin to imagine how tedious and time consuming this must have been. We set out, under their guidance, to build some software that would automate the translation process for them. Today marks the first release of that software, Kassandra v0.1.
As a first release it isn’t really all that flashy, but it is functional (or at least it is for this tester). The application currently will convert MS Word 97-2003 document from plain text into the symbol text that the students are reading. There are a couple of backlog items (translating MS Excel and PDF) available for us to work on, but I think that we’re going to let the users work with this for a few weeks to see if they come up with any changes or enhancements to the current functionality.