Home --> Enabling the Disabled --> Our support for the disabled. 
Our Support for the Disabled

Software for the Visually handicapped

   The team at IIT Madras has realized the importance of the need to incorporate some aspects of Assistive Technologies in the Multilingual software, so as to benefit the disabled, at least in respect of giving them opportunities to get educated in the first place, in their own mother tongue. The multilingual software, enhanced with speech, has gained wide acceptance in the country on account of its simplicity and ease of use by one and all.

We have prepared a special web page describing what IIT Madras has done for the Visually handicapped in its software. Presented in the form of questions and answers, the information provided may be read first to get an insight into the nature of IT for the disabled in the developing world.

   For many children in India, a visual handicap almost invariably leads to virtual isolation from the community. We have seen the manner in which these children struggle to come up in life, often sacrificing their education for a job that can at best allow them a daily allowance. 

  While it is true that computers have not reached even normal schools in the rural areas, getting the visually handicapped children to learn to use them, seems certainly far fetched. The IIT team has been fortunate enough to win the friendship of  voluntary organizations in the country which are involved in projects of social relevance. These organizations willingly came forward to offer training to the visually handicapped in different parts of the country, using the IITM sound enhanced applications. 

  Over the past six years  (1999 - 2005), more than three hundred persons working in institutions for the visually handicapped have been trained and the warm response we have received from them has been overwhelming. We feel gratified that besides meeting a technical challenge, we have also been able to contribute to a social cause. We acknowledge with gratitude, the extensive moral support and encouragement we have received from persons associated with Institutions for the disabled, to pursue the development of Multilingual systems to facilitate use by the disabled as well. 

Software Development at IIT Madras

 Our development of systems for the disabled is still at a stage of infancy when compared to solutions available in the west for the English speaking person. We are however encouraged by the acceptance of the following applications for the visually handicapped.

  •   Computer generated Braille which permits text in Indian languages to be read through the conventional six dot system. Braille codes (Bharati Braille) have been recommended for Indian language aksharas and the IITM software can generate the language specific Braille codes or simply the Roman transliteration of the text. The document can mix Braille text in the vernacular with English Braille.

  •   Text to speech output in Indian languages using Sound cards on Computers. Sound is synthesized from the unique internal representation of the Indian language text and can be effected without additional processing such as a dictionary lookup. Speech may be produced on the fly and the result is quite clear and intelligible though lacking in intonation and accent. 

  •   The MBROLA speech engine has been used in this application and as of now, there is a slight European accent to the speech output. The applications worth mentioning in this connection are, Multilingual Editor enhanced with speech, Jaws for Dos adapted to work under Windows and Linux without external synthesizers and speech enhanced Lynx for browsing the internet.

      As on February 2006, several applications useful to the Visually handicapped have been enhanced with text to speech capabilities. Please refer to the links on the right for additional information about these applications.

      The most useful aspect of the multilingual software is its ability to work transparently across the languages of the country as well as in English. Hence the process of training a disabled person or for that matter the trainer himself/herself, is simple and straightforward. The computer opens up new possibilities for disabled children when they begin to experiment with it as an effective tool to communicate with the others. Also, the volunteer organizations have used the software to disseminate information on the web in a manner which appeals to educators and trainers working in different institutions for the disabled.

      The Software developed for use by the Visually handicapped is described in the linked page

    Online services provided at this site.

      Consistent with the idea that the web represents a very important resource for the people of the world, the Acharya web site offers the following services to help the cause of the disabled.

  • On-line tutorials to learn Braille 
  • Service to provide Braille documents created through a web interface
  • Online school lessons for the Visually Handicapped 
  • General references on disability related matters
  • Vidya Vrikshah's Disability Research Center and Training Programs.

      The volunteer organization Vidya Vrikshah which has promoted the use of the IITM Software, has set up a Disability Research Center and offers regular training programs for the disabled. These training programs are offered free and typically run for three days during which the disabled person is trained in the use of the software. A copy of the software is also given free for the person to have the same installed in his/her computer.

      The Vidya Vrikshah web site has several pages of useful information relating to disabilities. Several of these pages are carried in the vernacular.

    Systems Development Laboratory, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Madras is pleased to offer Information Technology aids for the welfare of the disabled in india.

    The lab works closely with many volunteer organizations in the country to spread literacy among the underprivileged and the disabled.

    If you belong to a group that serves the cause of the disabled, you might want to use the computer applications distributed by the lab.

    Please get in touch with the lab or Vidya Vrikshah for additional details.

    Software development at the lab

    Online services at Acharya

    A short introduction to Braille
    (An introduction to the six dot system of Braille for English)

    Bharati Braille, a tutorial
    (Braille system standardized for Indian languages)

    Sound enhanced Multilingual editor
    (For use with Microsoft Windows)

    The sound enhanced Lynx web browser
    (Windows and Linux)

    Jaws for Dos using a sound card on a PC
    (This is an adaptation of the now freely given screen reader to work with Windows and Linux. The use of an external synthesizer has been dispensed with.)

    (This is a utility to transcribe Indian language text into Bharati Braille.)


    On-line resources

    Braille Tutorials

    Braille Transcription

    E-texts for school children

    Useful reference information

    Audio Cassettes
    (List of audio cassettes on different subjects. The cassettes are in different Indian languages and may be available with organizations for the welfare of the visually handicapped in different cities. This list is presented in the Devanagari script.)

    Acharya Logo
    Traditional earthen lamps. The beauty of the lamp is its simplicity.

    Today is Jul. 03, 2020
    Local Time: 17 23 40

    | Home | Design issues | Online Resources | Learn Sanskrit | Writing Systems | Fonts |
    | Downloads | Unicode, ISCII | SW for the Disabled | Linguistics | Contact us |
    Last updated on 10/30/12     Best viewed at 800x600 or better