I’ve recently been planning an open source project for this summer. I was approached last year during the holiday season by a woman on a forum with a story about her friend with Multiple Sclerosis who had lost most of his ability to speak normally. She didn’t have any money and was taking this guy into her home because he had no where else to go. She was looking for donations to buy a laptop to run a free application built for a Mac that would allow him to type and it would speak for him. The only problem is that the original developer of the application had long since passed away and the source code was not available.
So when I heard about this story, I thought to myself there was something more I could do than pitch them $20 – I could write them an application. They could get a PC laptop for a much cheaper price and really make the donations she received stretch further. I started into motion by getting a CodePlex project set up and creating a very small demo to send to her. They were excited and said the new application would be very helpful and encouraged me to continue with development.
Now I kicked back into planning mode. I thought that it would be important to do this the right way and not just slam out some code in a day or two and send it their way. As the week progressed I got a message from the woman that someone had offered a sweet deal on equipment similar to what Stephen Hawking has. She would no longer need my application and she was thankful for the week and a half that I had worked on the project. This information combined with the fact that it was the holiday season and I had plenty of other things fighting for time in my schedule caused the project to be shelved indefinitely.
Some time later, I was walking to a coffee shop near my office with a friend who had a nephew that was born with a cleft palate. He was listening to my story and told me that there are other people like his nephew that would benefit from this. This led me to think that there would still be some value in continuing this project.
I have now started planning again. I have several ideas and have started a project plan document. I’m looking to use an open source text to speech engine to support further goals of eventually making this application cross-platform. If you would like to help in any way I could use assistance in development, documentation and of course testers!