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Tom Nies

Student Project Creates an Adaptable and Flexible Smalltalk Programming Environment for the Visually Impaired

FAST (Fundación Argentina de Smalltalk) is a non-profit foundation in Argentina that creates activities to promote the use of the Smalltalk programming language in all fields, including education and the software industry. At their annual conference, Suzanne Fortman learned about an amazing student-created application that prompted a new Smalltalk user story, as well as the creation of our Student Project Submission program. At Universidad Nacional de Quilmes in Buenos Aires, Argentina, two students, along with the backing of their professors, elected to tackle a challenge that was affecting their visually impaired classmates: integrating screen readers with Smalltalk.

The Lazaro Project is a student-created Smalltalk application made to enable visually impaired university students at the Universidad Nacional de Quilmes in Buenos Aires to learn object-oriented programming under the same conditions and with the same experiences as their sighted classmates. This project was a great example of what students can do when they see a need and work together to address it.

Professor Gabriela Arevalo said,

“The project was not only interesting for the challenge represented as a student project, but also because of the impact on our university community. Using this tool, blind students can study with minimal adaptations to the software and in the same timeframe as other students.”

Lazaro is a work in progress that has application within academia; however, Lazaro could easily be extended to other uses in the future. In business, for example, it could be used at organizations looking to add support for the visually impaired with a new application that integrates with their existing applications. This is what Suzanne saw during the presentation of Lazaro at the FAST. Conference, prompting her to say:

“I had the privilege to experience the students presenting the Lazaro application … and immediately recognized that their project would add value to several of Cincom’s Enterprise customers. These customers are looking for an application to support the visually impaired, which also seamlessly integrates with their Cincom Smalltalk applications.”

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