Well, it's that time again, and now for something completely different: using web development skills to assist the disabled. No, I'm not talking about using colorblind palettes on a website for those who struggle to tell shades of gray apart; I'm talking about capitalizing on machine learning and AI in tandem with the hardware that's available on almost every machine today to make life simpler for stroke patients, and that's just to give a fine example of what Oz Ramos managed recently. As always, there are good souls out there who constantly remind us that with a little creativity, anything is possible.
As you can see by the video in the linked tweet, he created a system for a buddy who happens to be a stroke victim. The system allows you to direct facial expressions at a camera to control the mouse functions, including cursor movement and left- or right-clicking. Bobbing his head in different directions causes the cursor to move around while squinting at the camera causes the AI to recognize a left-click command. Next to these amusing and heartfelt shenanigans is a list of input meters that register what the computer interprets. Naturally, this is a wonderful feature not just for stroke victims in particular but anyone with a disability that prevents the normal usage of a mouse.
Ramos reports that a Chrome extension will be available within a week or so, which means just anyone can begin taking advantage of this wonderful code in short order. As you can see from Oz Ramos' profile, he's committed to designing scripts, markups and code that can help out disabled individuals with surfing the web, and it seems that he's doing a great job with it judging by the feedback that he's received for his efforts. It's always nice to see that the better-abled are reaching a helping hand down to the less fortunate among us.
I'd like to just point out that this is an inspiring reminder to every web developer out there that if you're not feeling the rat race to develop the prettiest website or create the most optimized piece of software, there's a shortage of developers who are actively assisting the disabled with computer and phone interaction. You could be the next hero in the community who helps expand the web's accessibility for those suffering from complications.