Implanting e-Lens……….

They can work with local languages in Braille which will get converted into text. They can have access to and read documents from the Internet without any assistance. They can get printing possible in both Braille and Text without any assistance from a sighted person. For the visually challenged, a new knowledge corridor is talking shape. Webel Mediatronics is architecting it. “Yes we draw great mental satisfaction when we see that even visually challenged can be put at par with sighted to explore the e-world. Still we will have to go long way. We have to maintain the momentum, rather create greater momentum for IT enabled Braille education infrastructure development. WML has so far installed IT based Braille Systems at 70 special schools for the visually challenged all over India”, said Dr G.D.Gautam, Principal Secretary, Deptt. of Information Technology, Government of West Bengal. 

For this great work, West Bengal government’s Information Technology department had already been awarded the “Golden Icon for Braille project for exemplary Implementation of e-Governance Initiatives” by the Department of Administrative, Reforms and Public Grievances, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Government of India. This Project was undertaken by IT Department and WEBEL Mediatronics Ltd. to develop IT enabled Braille education infrastructure.

The project envisages enhancing the infrastructure at 27 Blind Institutes and 2 Libraries. The proposed use of Computerised Braille Transcription System is enabled by Text to Braille Conversion software and Automatic Braille embosser.

Braille – ready texts are being made avialble in all the Indian Languages like  Bangla, Hindi, Assamese, Oriya, Marathi, Gujrati, Punjabi, Tamil, Telegu, Kannada, Malayalam, Nepali and English. Country wide electronic Braille library is now a possibility using computers, Internet and tactile readers.

Using the above system it takes much less time to learn Braille Students are getting more interest in Braille education as they use computers. Using the system a blind school can meet day to day demand of Braille locally without being dependent on a remote Braille Press.Teaching Mathematics and Science to the visually impaired students are also being facilitated with Math Braille Software.

WML has developed Shruti Drishti is a web page browser developed for visually impaired users, enabling access to websites. It offers the option of presenting the displayed information in a verbal mode using a speech synthesizer or in the Braille format. The verbal mode of information representation provides descriptive information on all elements of a web page, including links, buttons, check box, text and so on, using CDAC’s Vachantar technology. Shruti Drishti is keyboard event driven and provides ‘keyboard only’ accessibility using a minimal set of keys. It also provides a large text window for partially sighted users and a standard web page browser to enable users to work together with sighted workers.

The Screen Reader with Text to Speech System, developed by WML, helps visually impaired people to get into the world of information through computers. This system guides and instructs users to access different computer utilities like text editing, calculating spreadsheets, storing databases, reading or writing emails etc. It reads the screen the user working with, the keystroke or the combination of several keystrokes he / she sending through input devices like keyboard so that he / she can easily execute any job through a computer without help of sighted person. The software will read the current screen the user is working with including ‘Windows Explorer’. The user can browse Internet and also send / receive emails using  ‘Internet Explorer’ to read and write emails. Using the software one can work with MS Word also.

The Bengali-to-Bengali Talking Dictionary offers excellent search facility for choosing the correct word with meaning and parts of speech from a database of 60,000 words. This has a unique facility to search words having a combination of similar letters at the end or middle of a word. If the exact spelling of the word is not known to the user, then the software will search for phonetically similar words from the Dictionary and an attempt will take to display the correct word or the nearest correct word as found in the Dictionary. Searching of words with its meaning can be operated in Braille mode and the corresponding speech output provides the details of the word. This enables the blind user to operate the package independently.

The Mathematics Transcription Software, developed jointly by International Council for Education for the Visually Impaired (ICEVI) and WML, transcripts Mathematical text input into Braille code and deliver output in the form of embossed Braille paper. The application provides text editor for typing Mathematical/ Scientific text. Input text matter can be converted into corresponding Braille code following English Grade I Literary Braille standard, for English language part, and following Nemeth standard, for mathematics and scientific part of the input text material. Output can be taken in the form of embossed Braille pages using standard Windows compatible Braille embossers such as Index families of Braille embossers.

TECHNOLOGY FOR CEREBRAL PALSY 

Under the Department of IT, Ministry of Communications and IT, Government of India sponsored project WML has developed  ITCP software , an icon based Educational  Communication System using Multimedia for the people affected with Cerebral Palsy . The software is a learning aid as well as a teaching aid in the filed of picture based communication. The software has a database of picture , audio and text. The software supports Hindi, Bengali, Mizo and English.

As Cerebral Palsy affected people have involuntary muscle movements , it is quite difficult for them to use conventional input devices like mouse or keyboard. WML has developed special switches through which they will be able to interact with the software. It has also developed a portable 4 message Voice Output(VOCA) for communication of Cerebral Palsy affected and non-speaking people. The Software Used is a pictorial is a multimedia based educational tool for people affected with Cerebral Palsy, currently supporting Bengali, Hindi, Mizo and English Languages.

The software comes with a comprehensive archive of icons ( illustrations or images of various objects, ideas, actions and events), and associated audio files in vernacular languages. Using these icons, the teachers using AAC System can design Communication Boards of innumerable themes for individual students, which they can take print outs of as well as keep a soft copy for future use. The software has been installed at two Cerebral Palsy Institutes in Kolkata and Aizwal.

SHARING INFORMATION WITH PEOPLE 

Recognizing the emerging needs for focused initiative towards dissemination of multi-ferrous empowerments by IT to masses, Panchayat & Rural Development department introduced information sharing with the people through touch-sensitive information Kiosk facility that has been inaugurated by the Governor of West Bengal, Mr. Gopal Krishna Gandhi at the P&RD Department on 25th February 2006. (See pix below)  The kiosk is the first venture of this kind in any department of the State Government. At present the kiosk is providing information that are available in the soft form and more and more information are being added on regular basis. 

Pointing out that taking “IT to Masses” in their respective vernacular language (i.e. Bangla) is one of its identified thrust areas of the Government of West Bengal, Dr. Gautama said: “It would be ideal if there are enclosed systems with touch-sensitive screen-based interaction for quick disbursement of sought information to the masses; and also, a separate open system for detailed study and/or taking a printout (perhaps, on a charge basis for generating revenue for upkeep and maintenance)”.

Touch-screen facility will provide information (as available in the NIC web site) to general public interactively over the touch sensitive Kiosk in Bangla. Additional two information, namely, Availability status of important employees and status of Tender processing), are being added in the system.

The major information through the kiosk presently available: (a) Information on the Department and associated organisations- their organograms; (b) Information of the three tier Panchayati Raj Institutions of the State; (c) District wise specific information, GIS maps of district and Blocks; (d) Directory up to Gram Panchayats; (e) Self Help Groups and their product range- availability;

(f) Various programmes implemented through PRIs— brief guidelines therefore; (g) Notifications—tenders, circulars etc ; (h) Important news & Success stories; (i) e-Government activities at PRIs and Department; (j) Reports and Publications of the Department and its associated organizations.

 

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