Blind World Magazine

Blind students unveil a user friendly braille interface.

October 25, 2005.
Daily Pioneer, India.

Visually challenged children are no longer dependent on writers for answering their papers in exams. A software developed by two students of the Blind School on Lodhi Road has the capacity to take any kind of braille command, both in English and Hindi, and immediately translate it into print on screen. Called "Braille face," this software can even help one to punctuate the text .

The software has an edge over the existing Direct Lan Braille (DLB) software, developed by the engineers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur. Firstly, it has the capacity to translate braille point immediately into print on receipt of the command unlike the IIT kit, which can take up to thirty minutes depending on the file content. Secondly, this software has the capacity to read any kind of number or word while the DLB can only read the recorded characters and thirdly, the DLB works with the aid of a support software called Leap Office whereas this functions independently.

A brainchild of a 16 year-old Satvir Singh and 19-year-old Gulzar Ahmed Mir, this software was prepared primarily on Visual Basics in six months. "This software function on six keys-F, D, S, G, K and L and each of the keys denote braille points- one to six respectively. Even though the visually handicapped child will press any of these keys as they do in braille writing, the word that appears on the screen will be on print and not in braille points. So, it is convenient for both the visually challenged examinee, who is able write in the language he was taught in and also a normal examiner, who can easily correct the answer script," Gulzar explained. "And it has the capacity to guide the writer to place the right punctuation mark at the right place." They have also installed talking software in it that lends a voice to the command.

"Nobody has taught us Visual Basics , we have learnt it on our own. And this software is the result of permutation and combination of the resources available," explains an enthusiastic Satvir, who lost his eyesight one day while he was writing his English exam in Class III.

"For a blind examinee, it's a complete dependency on the whims and fancies of the writer. And it's a traumatic experience where you cannot jot things down even if you are thorough with your lessons," Satvir said. "I don't want all blind students to undergo this."

This six-month-old software is yet to be marketed. "We are trying to provide them as much facilities as possible to keep them in groove with their creativity. Engineers from IBM were invited to see the software." said KC Pande, the executive secretary at Blind Relief Association (BRA).

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