Our team grew with our volunteers!
How is it then, for the first time to be with the children at the tests of games for people who are blind?
"Oh .. now I can’t see you.. where are you?" I said, taking off my glasses. Gregory put on his colorful glasses and said laughing "I see you". Then I woremy glasses and said "ha! And I see you". This game lasted a few minutes, until the laptops of Vassilis and Paul were setup for the children of the Special Primary School for the Blind in Kallithea to try the Memor-i game and record whatever changes are needed in order to improve the game.
Memor-i is an electronic game that is now being developed by SciFY. It's like the game we played when we were young, where you have to find the cards with two identical animals. In our case, it is specially designed to be played by children that are blind or with low vision. For example, it has "doors" which, when opened, you see a small animal and together with the image, you hear the sound it makes, so you can match pairs and win.The children can be navigate in the game with a special interface and soundeffects. At the Elementary School for the Blind in Kallithea, children with impaired vision were to test it, like Gregoris, with whose glasses we played with.
Children that do not see at all also tested it. One of these children is Alice. Vassilis informed us that she had tried both previous games for blind children (LEAP) with excellent results: she was incredibly enthusiastic for the game, and we achieved educational goals, as well. While essentially she does not know how to use a computer, the game became the reason she started to learn, to come into contact with it: without seeing the keyboard, she recognizes and remembers the location of the keys, with which she will be move in the game. As we have learned from our actions so far, this is true for almost all blind children in gradeschool: through the game they start learning about computers.
Success for little Alice is not only in the electronic space of games, as we were informed proudly by her teacher; she has lent her voice to the narration of the story of “Paplomatou”, for which each child has made their own book. This book has pages on which the children have created "images" of various craft scardboard / fabrics and pages on which the text of the story isprinted. Text for the sighted and Braille (Braille Code) for those who do not see at all.
Children who came to help us improve Memor-i, were all so excited that they would do something different in their everyday life, something their mom could do, their dad, their brothers and most of us. Something we take for granted, is anadventure for them. In their voice, you recognized the joy, they did not want the game to end and give their turn to the other children. Even children who had not touched a keyboard before, wanted to try again. When we told them it is at an early stage and we want their help to finish it, the response was outstanding: all of them told us with enthusiasm that the game is perfect and they would play again even at this incomplete stage!
All this communication, in addition to improvements to the Memor-i game, gave us inspiration for other things. Any child we met at the Special Primary School for the Blind in Kallithea, had the well known children's liveliness, the interest to learn new things, enthusiasm to talk to us for everyday things, such as an afternoon walk, or what dream they saw at night! It is nice to hear that even people who do not see the world with the same ease that we do, have their own dreams and plans a colorful future for everyone.
By PatrycjaWeronika Wosiecka
*Names of the children are changed to protect their privacy
2015 Annual Report
We feel very proud that, with your help, we accomplished together quite a lot. We thank you all! See the published 2015 SciFY's Annual Report.
On Wednesday the 13th of April, at 19:00, more than 120 people attended the 10th SciFY Academy which was organised by SciFY and the Hub of Innovation and Entrepreneurship of the Technopolis City of Athens - Innovathens, on the topic of “Internet of Things - From an idea to an international market”. SciFY Academy is a free, series of presentations which aims to promote the free diffusion of knowledge, conducted by the Non Profit Organisation SciFY.
The event’s first speaker was Chrysostomos Bouras, member of the “TheThingsNetwork Athens” community. He presented his team’s (GRIot) effort in expanding a network of Internet of Things in Athens which will belong exclusively to citizens/volunteers.
Afterwards, Lefteris Papageorgiou, CEO of Entranet, with his vast experience in the area of new technologies introduced us to the world of Internet of Things (Iot) using the “house from the future” as an example.
An expected question is “what exactly does the house of the future have that makes it different than ordinary residences?” The answer is that you can have full control of the house through voice commands. Indicatively we will mention voice recognition: for example you will be able to speak to the elevator and tell it on which floor you wish to get off or just the profession of the person you wish to visit. Few of us know that the residents of a ‘smart” house will have access to services such as an electronic information bank which will be updated with biometric information, it will remind you of your medical needs and will offer you the possibility of immediate communication with medical centers.
Furthermore we were informed about the basic steps that must be done to promote an innovative business idea:
Step 1: Build your team
Step 2: Learn your market
Step 3: Calculate the time you will need to enter the market
Step 4: Calculate the cost
Step 5 : Conduct a Business Plan and stick to it
Step 6: Breakdown the Structure
Step 7 : Find the capital
Step 8 : Think of alternative funding sources
We would like to thank Lefteris Papageorgiou, Chrysostomos Bouras, INNOVATHENS and of course all our friends who attended the event making interesting comments and questions, contributing once more in realising our dream of free knowledge diffusion!
LEAP tournament games
Blind and sighted students play together!
The problem that we were presented with, was not what we expected. In the I.M Panagiotopoulos School in which we did the tournament game, between sighted children of the school and blind children of Kallithea Special Elementary School for the Blind, the children who wanted to play were so many, and time was limited, that we had to choose who would play, and who would not ... but let's start from the beginning:
Our aim was to talk to students aged 10-13 (5th and 6th grade students ofelementary school and 1st grade of High Scool), and make them understand that not all people start their life with the same skills and abilities but it does not matter, because in real life we help each other, regardless of our personal potential and abilites, and we need the skills of other people.
Moreover, our aim was to create partnerships between sighted and blind students because although the sighted students can see the computer screen and (obviously) "control" the game, the blind or visually impaired students have a (proven) better sense of hearing and space.
In other words, we all wanted to play and learn from it.
"But, Ms Elina, how could blind children play tennis if they do not see?", "And the arrows on the screen, how will they find them in order to play?".
These were some of the obvious questions that the students of I.M. Panagiotopoulos School had during the "preliminary" meeting, a few days before the tournament. That’s why the school teachers and our team needed to be well prepared. And that’s exactly what happened. The School Director and the teachers were perfectly prepared: They had accepted with enthusiasm our proposal, and the teachers had explained to the children what to do according to the plan, they had already run an internal tournament … Furthermore, in order to solve the problem of who would play, we decided to do a draw and have two sighted children for each blind student. This way we also had fewer disappointed children!
The day of the tournament
It’s Tuesday morning, 15 of March, and we are ready to visit the I.M. Panagiotopoulos School in Pallini in order to start the LEAP game tournament between blind and sighted students. We were a bit anxious. On everyone’s mind was the responsibility towards children and the details for conducting of the tournament.
At around 10:30 a.m. we were welcomed by the teachers outside the school. We entered the room where the blind children of Kalithea Disability School along with the group of children from the 5th and 6th grade of IM Panagiotopoulos Elementary School were waiting for us. We introduced ourselves to the children and we explained them the rules of the tournament. The rules were simple. Each student of Kalithea school would play three rounds. In each round he/she would be introduced to a new group of children of the other school. Each child could choose which game to play, tennis or tic tac toe.
Getting to know each other
The children were getting to know each other. They discussed about their classes, their daily routine, their favorite hobbies, their favorite food. It was great to see children with different experiences, so willing to get to know each other, not out of curiosity, but out of real interest.
"You do have English classes? and French? and also learn to play the piano? Uh ... and then when do you have time play?" All the above are just some of the questions that our friend S., student of Kallithea school, asked the students from IM Panagiotopoulos School.
"Seriously, do you write fairy tales? girls from IM Panagiotopoulos asked A. from School of Kallithea"
"What about you guys? You all like pasticcio? Nobody likes the spinach? or the okra?" Laughter and conspiratorial glances … Things are going great…
We started to play: we put the headphones on, turned the computer screen off and with only the help of the three-dimensional sound of LEAP game series, the teams were trying to collect the highest possible score. Truth is that the score itself didn’t really bother us. What mattered the most was the children to get to know each other and the experience of playing together.
After a few hours the tournament had cometoan end. There was no winner and no loser, what mattered was the involvement in the game and making some new friends. Having a good time, many smiles ... and some chocolates are enough to make a child happy. :-)
What did we gain?
With actions like this, we feel that we help so that children become familiar with the different disabilities that people may have, learn to respect their fellows and consider them equal to them, so that they adopt an attitude of respect towards people with disabilities.
After the end of the tournament, we had to leave the school. We were all feeling differently, we were feeling the joy of giving, and that the satisfaction that the games which we created, can really change the everyday life of our little friends with vision problems. We felt that we offered a unique experience and a life lesson to all, including us.
The children’s responses
After the tournament ,we spoke privately with each child group. They didn't know us well, but they responded honestly:
"I felt excitement and pleasure that I helped him even a little."
"I think my experience with blind children was perfect, A. played better than me "
"I felt joy and pleasure that worked and got to know these children."
"I was very happy with this experience and been given the opportunity to get to know these children."
"I certainly had fun and I made new friends."
"When I left I felt a bit sad, not because I had to go back to school but because I would miss the girl I played with."
We also asked the sighted children something more: Were you anxious before the meeting?
It came to our surprise that for many children, this was like pushing a button: it made them more relaxed and started talking about it. They understood that we did not expect "politically correct" answers, but honest ones. They felt relieved that they could speak freely:
- Yes! I was thinking how should I speak, what to do ...
- And now, after the games, what do you think? Did you actually have reasons to be concerned?
-(Laughs) Of course not! We are…. how can I say it ... It's just .... they are children, they are friends!
- Come on, I said, have a break!
I didn't want them to understand I was trying to hide a small tear....
In 2015 we did something that had never been done in Greece:
We created 3 electronic games specially designed for blind children and offered them for free to thousands of children who just couldn’t wait for them!
The acceptance was amazing. The children are asking us to keep going.
Help us create a game for all!
What we will do
Why it is important
1,5 year of working with blind children and their professors taught us that the need for games like these is great. There are very few quality electronic games for these children. They are deprived of something basic: the right to play and learn through playing. Also, since they are not familiar with computers they cannot sufficiently develop important skills.
What we have done so far
With the help of EEA and Norway Grants (We Are All Citizens program), we have created 3 electronic games for the blind and have freely distributed them in 2 languages. The reciprocation was astonishing: in less than a year over 1.500 children have played with them around the world, we have been congratulated by organizations from both sides of the Atlantic, and we have received amazing children’s smiles! Have a look at the project up to now.
We need your support to do this!
You can help through
PayPal, credit card, or by depositing money on a bank account.
If something does not work well for you, contact us at
Tel. +30 211 400 4192, +30 211 014 9973
Over 100 people watched Spiros Tzortzis, graduate of the Department of Organization and Business Administration of the Economic University of Athens and member of the Cooperate Digital Communication Sociality, introduce us to the world of Google Adwords.
In the beginning of the event the attendees watched 3 small videos about:
Continuing, Vassilis Salapatas took the floor and informed us about SciFY’s actions in the field of Organisational Intelligence. He described Newsum, an application which conducts sums of news from different sources and in many languages, he also referred to PServer, an application for automatic personalization services.
We were also informed about SciFY’s new projects which aim to contribute in the Digital Marketing of companies.
Later on, Mr Tzortzis made an introduction to Digital Marketing and described to us concepts like e-mail marketing, Social Media Marketing and Display Advertising.
He analysed what are Google AdWords as well as the terminology that is being used:
We were informed about how advertising takes place on the internet -Google Search Network and Google Display Network- and how Quality Score affects the results.
We would like to thank Spiros, INNOVATHENS and of course all our friends who attended the event making very interesting comments and questions and contributing once more in making our dream of free diffusion of knowledge come true.
Download the presentation here.
Τo be informed about SciFY’s next events you can register here.
“For people without disabilities, technology makes things easier. For people with disabilities, technology makes things possible.”
Mary Pat Radabaugh, Director of IBM National Support Center for Persons with Disabilities
On Wednesday the 10th of February, the SciFY team, organised at INNOVATHENS Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship of the Technopolis of the Municipality of Athens, a seminar dedicated to Assistive Technologies.
Over 50 people watched Mr. George Kouroupetroglou head of the Accessibility and Technology Voice Lab for student’s with disabilities of the University of Athens and Head of the department of Communication and Signal Processing of the IT Department, together with Mrs. Kalliopi Lappa, Occupational Therapist, Responsible of Assistive Technologies at the National Rehabilitation Center and Scientific Partner of the organisation and function of Assistive Technology spaces at the “Asklipio Voulas” General Hospital and at the Intesive Care Unit of “Evaggelismos” General Hospital, introduce us to assistive technologies.
|The event started Mr. Aristotle Panagopoulos, occupational therapist at the PIKPA Foundation, introducing the current situation in Greece regarding assistive technologies to the crowd.
Subsequently, Mr. George Kouroupetroglou took the floor, and among others he reffered to the Hardware and Software applications which can be used for:
Furthermore, there were references on the legislation and policies followed in a National and International level for people with disablities in matters of social intergration. Moreover, the attendants were informed about the existence of an open library with free assistive technology application software, the mAthena collection.
|In the second part of the seminar Mrs. Kalliopi Lappa described to us how important it is to offer as soon as possible assistive technologies to people who are in need of them. Furthermore, she talked about the lack of games for blind children and how important SciFY’s effort creating LEAP games is.
Concluding, there was a reference to the value of teamwork and cooperation between those whom it concerns, the members of the interdisciplinary team, the families and the carers. At the end of her speech, Mrs. Lappa refered to the FEIRd device, which was created by SciFY for people who face disabilities in their upper limbs. Last but not least, she described to us the change it brought to the everyday life of our friend, Alexander.
We warmly thank Sophia, Maria, Thanasis and Margarita, the intrepreters from the Polyhoros-Kivotos center (center for education in sign language), who voluntarily translated the speeches to sign language.
|The event was conducted with the scientific support of the Hellenic Association of Assistive Technologies.
To learn about following SciFY Academy events, you can subscribe here.
SciFY is a place of creation and innovation, a place with different perspective of the world. Just creating applications is not enough, we persue the creation of innovative solutions for people who are in need of them. This is why we decided to develop ICSee (I Can See) an application for people with visual impairments which incoporates all the necessary innovation needed for the people that will use it.
In this effort of ours we came in touch with specialists, organisations and associations of people who deal with visual impairments. We asked them what are their needs? What problems do they face with the already existent assistive technologies? What do they wish we could create for people with severe visual problems? We made them our partners in this effort because they know the problem better than anyone else.
ICSee helps people with visual impairments deal with everyday problems for example it helps them read a receipt or a name on a doorbell e.t.c. An application like ICSee can be a integral part of the everyday lives of people with visual disabilities. With ICSee everyone can see in their own special way:
-It helps with reading texts: it magnifies the text but also offers the possibilty to applying a series of special filters
-It doesn’t have a menu text or a written tutorial: We have made it’s usage as easy as possible aboloshing menus and utilizing the master senses of people with low vision, hearing and touching, creating acousting instructions and creating gestures which allow it’s easy usage.
In this manner everybody who has low vision has the opportunity to use ICSee without any help from his social enviroment making him feel more indipendent. Whereas, anyone can download the ICSee application completely free on his android smartphone or tablet from GooglePlay by clicking here.
We are particulary happy when prominent organisations support our effort, organisations like ENIL ( European Network on Indipendent Living ) which posted our application ICSee on its Social Media following it with great commentary. Also, we have had the support of many Greek media with various article being written about SciFY and ICSee for example on Huffington Post Greece , Proto Thema , Vima and many more.
To sum it up, we would also like to thank the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation, which thanks to it’s kind grant made it possible for us to create a better more improved version of the application ICSee.
On Wednesday 20th of January, SciFY’s team, organized in INNOVATHENS, Technopolis Hub of Innovation and Entrepreneurship of the Municipality of Athens, a seminar, devoted to the synthesis and speech recognition technologies.
Almost 100 people, watched Aimilios Chalamandaris, co-founder and director of INNOETICS company, and Nasos Katsamanis, researcher of Athena RIC and co-founder of beenotes company, to analyze the text-to-speech and speech-to-text technologies.
The event was introduced by Mr Vassilis Salapatas, one of SciFy’s co-founders, presenting the new improved version of the innovative ICSee application, funded by the Latsis Foundation. He stated that: "Using ICSee (I Can See), people with low vision can read a short text such as the list of a restaurant or the price on a receipt, which would otherwise be very difficult or even impossible to do. So their everyday lives improve greatly."
We recommend to those who have android devices (smartphone or tablet), to download the application from google play for free
“Look, I can manage without a screen!”
Followingly, Aimilios Chalamandaris referred to the Immitation of speech production methods (parametric, voice immitation as signal and hybrid voice), including the systems using speech synthesis, such as Text normalization and Unit selection. Furthermore, he described to us in which areas of everyday life this technology applies. Examples include Education (audio books, talking dolls), GPS navigation, the public transport announcements, the human-machine interface, and the preservation of languages that tend to disappear!
Those of you who wish to see and practice one of INNOETICS applications, such as writting a text and listening your computer reading the message, press here.
“Look, I can manage without a keyboard!"
In the second part of the event, Nasos Katsamanis, analyzed the technology of speech recognition, converting the speech into text. Typical examples of the use of this technology, is the video subtitling in Youtube, Google voice input and telephone monitoring. Next he explained to us that for developing an application that uses speech recognition technology the following things are required: data, a list of voices, accoustic models and tools for speech recognition such as: KALDI & CMU Sphinx.
Furthermore we were informed that in some cases it is a good thing that even... “the walls have ears”. In particular there was a reference to how our fellow citizens with some form of disability can be able to use the electrical appliances in their house giving simple voice commands. The name of this project: DIRHA
Enjoy the relevant video: "My sweet home… listen!"
Finishing, for those wondering what relevance apiculture has with all the above, in SciFY Academy, we learned that the speech recognition technology is used by the beekeepers so that they can keep voice notes, due to they cannot keep written notes because of their clothing!
As a conclusion, we would like to thank the speech rapporteurs, Aimilios Chalamandaris and Nasos Katsamanis, Latsis Foundation for the sponsorship offered to us so that we can upgrade the ICSee application, and all of you that attended the event..
See you soon...
Download Mr Chalamandaris presentation here.
Download Mr Katsamanis presentation here.
The third free video game for blind children and adults as well, “Curve”, has been completed in the frame of the LEAP (Listen-LEArn-Play) Program. "Curve" has an educational character and combines the skills and capacities that were developed in the previous two games so that it is enabled to transport typical optical educational procedures in acoustic space.
Curve, combines music, the notes of the pentagram with mathematic equations. Likewise as in Tic-tac-toe, the first LEAP game, children make use of the basic keys of the computer’s keyboard so that they can “hear” the graph of an equation expressed in notes and afterwards to repeat it before the time limit expires. In this way, they develop a sense of the graph through the help of the sound.
LEAP Project develops a series of free entertaining and educational electronic games for blind and partially sighted people, and is a product of collaboration between SciFY and The Department of Audio and Visual Arts of the Ionian University. The code and the games developed are offered as open software for free, so that they can be further developed and evolved by anyone who wishes to do so. You can find all three games in the project’s webpage: gamesfortheblind.org.
By making use of the latest developments in acoustic interface technology, LEAP project, has the ambition to contribute in eliminating social exclusion of people with vision impairments and especially of the children, in their “own field”, gaming and education. It’s goal is to broaden the gaming borders with innovative acoustic interfaces, to strengthen education with these games as a tool, to highlight the special skills of blind people and to demonstrate the value of cooperation between sighted and blind people.
One more goal for LEAP is to allow acoustic interfaces to be used in education, essentially through serious purpose games. These games are of increasing difficulty so that they allow the children to acquire and develop new skills that will make use of in their school life later. You can read the course of the game’s creation and the response of the children in SciFY’s webpage. Last but not least, LEAP aims to highlight the acquired skills of blind people in comparison to the sighted, through the projection of these skills and the strengthening of cooperation between blinded and sighted children through common activities.
The project is funded from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway within the frame of the "We are all citizens" Program, which is a part of the EEA Financial Mechanism for Greece, known as the EEA Grants. The Program’s grant administrator is the Bodossaki Foundation. The Program’s goal is to strengthen civil society in our country and the reinforcement of social justice, democracy and sustainable development.
For more information you can contact Ms Despoina Chalvatzi
Telephone: 0040 211 4004 192, 0040 698 3047 848