On 16 May 2018, Hon’ Chief Minister of Kerala, Sri Pinarayi Vijayan released T-Slide, an ergonomic mouse for people with motor disability developed by International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS). The Chief Minister interacted with Ms Sarasu Thomas, the first user of the device over a video call. T-Slide is an illustration of the government’s policy objective of leveraging technological knowledge to address needs of every section of the society, including those who have physical and cognitive difficulties.
With its vision of bringing benefits of ICT to every section of the society, the government had directed ICFOSS to attend to the needs of disabled. T-Slide is the first open hardware solution that the centre’s Assistive Technology lab has delivered. The device replaces the conventional mouse for persons with limited mobility in their hand and fingers. Apart from affordability, one major challenge with assistive technologies for Persons with Disabilities(PwDs) is that, for effectiveness solutions need to be adapted to the characteristics of every individual. In T-Slide, ICFOSS, leverages on possibilities of digital fabrication. The device can be produced using 3D Printers, with necessary customisation for every individual. Personalised devices can be made easily. Use of free software and open design keeps the cost of solution low. The design and source code is made available in ICFOSS Gitlab repository.
After using T-Slide, Ms. Sarasu Thomas, the first user of T-slide mouse and a writer, says “I can work longer than I used to and the distance between the screen and eyes is comfortable. I feel motivated and happy that I’m able to write more”. Ms Sarasu’s prior experience in ICT aided in the product development.
T-Slide has been presented to experts in assistive technology in various leading organisations for persons with disabilities in South India. Expanded field trials of the device will be initiated with these organisations.
“Technology overriding the social divide and bridging inequalities is what we see in T-Slide. The T-slide mouse conceptualised and designed by the International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS) is one such example, where technological advancement enables Persons with Disabilities.”
Affordable and accessible assistive technologies with freedom is what ICFOSS aims at. ICFOSS recently entered into a collaboration with the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien, Austria, for technology transfer. The University had developed several assistive technologies as part of its research. Under the agreement, the University will help ICFOSS localise their technology and bring to users in India.