Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India

Multilingual Systems and Software for the Visually Handicapped.
 

During the past decade, the Systems Development Laboratory in the department of Computer Science and Engineering at IIT Madras has been involved with a software project of national relevance. The project relates to the development of software for using computers in Indian languages. The basic aim of the project is to develop tools for teaching the use of computers to those who do not speak English. In the context of IT in Indian languages, this project has assumed great significance, for the lab has not only succeeded in providing the required software but has extended the same for use by visually handicapped persons in the country.

The students of the lab have developed several applications which could be used meaningfully in areas relating to both literacy and education in the country. A unique feature of the software is its ability to synthesize speech in Indian languages and thus incorporate text to speech capabilities in many applications supporting an Indian language based user interface. This important aspect of the software allows visually handicapped persons develop skills in using computers both in Indian languages and English. The Systems Development Laboratory has made available this multilingual software free of cost to the people of the country. In using this software, one feels proud that a very meaningful solution to working with computers in one's own mother tongue, has indeed come out of one of India's premier educational institutions.

Details of the software, its purpose, the method of distribution and many related issues are discussed below in the form of a series of questions and answers. It is hoped that the reader would find this a meaningful approach and thus understand how he/she could benefit from the use of the Multilingual software. The reader is urged to read the document in full.

There is a proposal to prepare a Braille version of this document. When available, the same will be supplied on request.
Please send a written request to,

Prof. R.Kalyana Krishnan
Dept. of Computer Science and Engg.
IIT Madras, Chennai-600036

General Questions:

What has IIT Madras developed in this Multilingual software?

Indian language software has been available for quite some time. Several commercial word processors and email applications are already available for Indian languages. What is the reason for IIT's project?

How will the IITM software help visually handicapped persons?

What can a visually handicapped person do with the software?

Software for use by the visually handicapped has been available for many years. What is the need for the IITM software?

It has been claimed that the quality of speech produced by the IITM software is poor. How can one use it then?

What is the idea in using computers in Indian languages? Almost every computerization project is based on only the standard applications written for English.

Some visually handicapped persons have already learnt to use software such as JAWS for Windows. Will the IITM software be useful to them?

One has heard of the use of the Internet by visually handicapped persons. How will the IITM software help in this case?

Is there any provision in the IITM software to work with English and run standard applications so that a visually handicapped person already familiar with English can get some benefits?



System Requirements and related questions:

What type of a computer is required to run the software?

How long does it take to learn to use the software?

Are people already using the software?

Is the software truly multilingual? What are the languages supported?

How is it that people do not seem to know about the software, if it is so useful to the country?

How can a visually handicapped person get a copy of the software?

Will the IITM software allow a visually handicapped person become a computer expert, say a programmer?

One has heard of reading machines for the visually handicapped. Can the IITM software be used for this purpose?

Does the IIT Madras software produce output in Braille? Can books be published in braille using the software?



Social issues:
 

IIT Madras is an educational institution committed to Technical education. Why is it involved in the exercise of of helping the disabled?

What is the reason for the software to be given free, when almost all Indian language software packages are sold? Commercialization of a useful computer program seems to be the order of the day.

People in villages and rural areas do not get the benefits of basic education itself. Schools do not have basic resources. How do you suppose you can use computers under such circumstances. Who can afford them?

How will anyone be able to provide support for maintaining the software if it does become popular? IIT cannot obviously worry about this on a country wide basis.

Is the IIT Madras software useful for Visually handicapped persons alone? Will it be of use to others with different kinds of disabilities?



How could someone help?

How can organizations for the visually handicapped persons  help promote the use of the software?

What information services may be offered or run, using this software?

Is there a web site giving information about the software?

As a person interested in matters of social relevance, how can I help?

Whom should I contact if I want more information?



 

Question1:
What has IIT Madras developed in this Multilingual software?
Answer:
The software developed at IIT Madras relates to the use of computers in Indian languages. The software consists of a set of applications which can help the people of India learn to use computers in their own mother tongue. A single computer application will work uniformly across all the languages of India. The applications are many but the following are considered basic and useful.
 

Question2:
Indian language software has been available for quite some time. Several commercial word processors and email applications are already available for Indian languages. What is the reason for IIT's project?

Answer:
The uniqueness of the IITM software lies with its ability to work in all the Indian languages and scripts in a uniform manner and also develop new applications. The applications developed using the IITM software work across several computers and thus the software offers a universal approach to developing computer applications for use in India. The applications also support text to speech output which is not seen in any other software (as on Feb., 2002). Commercial software available for Indian languages stop with word processing and publishing. Also, at the price they are being sold, the packages are beyond the reach of most persons even in urban areas, not to speak of those in rural areas. The IIT Madras software is given free so that many people can use it for acquiring basic skills in using computers.

Question3:
How will the IITM software help visually handicapped persons?
Answer:
The software includes special text to speech enabled applications which will help visually handicapped persons learn to perform data entry and run a set of applications which include browsing the internet, sending email and the like. The system is capable of speech output in all the indian languages as well as English. Thus it is an ideal solution for the visually handicapped to gain skills in the use of computers.

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Question4:
What can a visually handicapped person do with the software?
Answer:
The following are considered important uses for the software.

A visually handicapped person can learn to type in English as well as Indian languages and thus become self sufficient in preparing documents using a computer.

The software can speak out already prepared documents and thus help a visually handicapped person read books which have been prepared electronically. A number of books in English have already been made available for free reading in electronic form. Books in Indian languages may also be prepared this way in so far as instructional material is concerned, such as school text books. School children and college students who are visually handicapped will greatly benefit from such a facility.

The IITM software includes a talking web browser which permits a visually handicapped person use a PC to browse the internet. The browser will also speak out information in Indian languages. The software includes tools for setting up web sites catering to such uses.

The software can be used to publish books and publications in Bharati Braille and thus reach out to other visually handicapped persons in many parts of the country where computers might still not have made an impact.

In summary, the IITM software comes in handy for a visually handicapped person to meet his/her daily requirements of information handling. In future, new applications will bring additional benefits. The ability of a visually handicapped person to use a computer opens up several possibilities for employment both in the Government and private sector.
 

Question5:
Software for use by the visually handicapped has been available for many years. What is the need for the IITM software?
Answer:
True, computers have come in a big way to help the visually handicapped and really fine software to help them use computers meaningfully, has been available for nearly a decade. In the west, applications such as Jaws, Dragon, Wineyes have established themselves as useful programs for those with vision impairments. However such software caters only to those who can speak and understand English. Besides, one has to pay for them and the price tags are such that even the urban upper middle class have to think twice about investing in them.

The software from IIT Madras provides the benefit of Information Technology in a way that most visually handicapped persons can become computer literate and acquire basic skills to operate computers in the Indian context. The IITM software does allow use of computers in English as well thus providing the best combination of applications in different languages.

As on February 2002, the IITM sound enhanced applications are the only known computer programs capable of producing continuous text to speech in all the Indian languages. Many visually handicapped persons in the country are using the editor package to advantage. The IITM package does pave the way for a person to get used to computers in a simple fashion and with  it a vision impaired person can learn to use other popular software for the visually handicapped available from the west.

The IITM software is the only known package that can produce Braille output correctly conforming to the Bharati Braille standard. This alone will justify its use. The software is aimed at providing literacy and education for the visually handicapped in India in a manner that is entirely novel and feasible. That is why it is given free. In a later question, the answer to who used the software to print Braille Books will be given.

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Question6:
It has been claimed that the quality of speech produced by the IITM software is poor. How can one use it then?
Answer:
The speech produced by the IITM software is synthesized speech and may not sound very natural as it lacks intonation It is however very intelligible and clear and more than a hundred vision impaired persons have found the quality of the output extremely acceptable. Also, the features supported by the software allow letter by letter, word by word and line by line reading of text making it quite easy for a person to understand what is spoken. The acceptability of the software has been so overwhelming that institutions such as NAB, organizations for the blind and recently the Rehabilitation Council of India have endorsed the use of the software for general use.

The development team at IIT Madras is also incorporating enhancements to make the speech sound natural. Results obtained thus far show that it will not be long before the quality comes close to that of normal speech.

Question7:
Some visually handicapped persons have already learnt to use software such as JAWS for Windows. Will the IITM software be useful to them?
Answer:
The answer is yes and no. The IITM software is clearly not a substitute for JAWS or similar software. Jaws for instance, is expected to allow a vision impaired person use a computer as a normal person would, even to the extent of becoming a computer programmer. The purpose of the IITM software is quite different. It is to bring the computer closer to those who are visually handicapped in india and do not know English. The usefulness of the software lies in its ability to permit a person to work with Indian language text and is thus ideally suited for those who perform secretarial functions. Even those already familiar with Jaws and similar packages will benefit by using the IITM software on account of its ability to combine English with Indian languages.
 

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Question8:
What is the idea in using computers in Indian languages? Almost every computerization project is based on only the standard applications written for English.
Answer:
This is a very pertinent question. The ability to work with computers is somehow seen as a skill which can help a person secure IT related jobs. Though most such jobs relate to the use of computers in English, it will not be long before IT in Indian languages gains significance. The purpose of the IITM software is to allow people in India come to grips with the use of computers in regular life through interactive user interfaces in the vernacular. It is envisaged that in the next five to ten years, the demand for services that rely on Indian language based information will grow so much that trained manpower will be hard to come by unless one starts right now. The IITM software is the best choice one has now for getting introduced to computers in a uniform way across the country regardless of the regional language variations.

Visually handicapped persons who are employed in regular jobs may still use the IITM software to meet their personal requirements in respect of gaining knowledge and additional skills by absorbing the volumes of information available in the Internet. Thus the fundamental aim being literacy and education on a continuous basis, the IITM software will always be useful, even if it is just a question of writing a letter to one's friend in a language understood by him/her.

As of today (February 2002), more than 80% of the information disseminated to the people of the country is in the vernacular. Many newspapers, magazines and books are printed in different Indian languages using laborious data entry schemes. The IITM software will be a great boon those who seek self employment and provide related services to the multilingual document preparation operations.

Question9:
How long does it take to learn to use the software?
Answer:
The IIT Madras approach to dealing with Indian languages is based on their phonetic nature. Data entry is based on the concept of an Akshara and thus directly related to a sound. On account of their common phonetic base, the languages lend themselves to uniform treatment by the software. Those familiar with English, might need a few hours to learn the principles of data entry and can prepare text almost immediately. For those familiar with the use of typewriters in Indian languages, it might take about a day to get used to the phonetic system of data entry. Though the software does include a typewriter based entry, the sound enhanced version is not supported in that format. Vidya Vrikshah, the volunteer organization which has used the software to train literally over two hundred people, has been successful in getting people to use the software in less than two days of practice. In many cases, people who had never worked with a computer became adept at using the editor in just about a day.

The basic training needed for those who have never used computers before is fairly simple, with additional support coming in from the tutorials which can be tried on-line.

Question10:
Are people already using the software?
Answer:
Very certainly yes. During the past three years (1999-2002), several persons have been trained in the use of the software which has also been installed in many institutions for the visually handicapped. Organizations from different parts of the country have sent volunteers (sighted as well as visually handicapped) to Vidya Vrikshah, Chennai for a four day free training program given around the third week of each month. Vidya Vrikshah is an NGO in Chennai which works closely with the development team in promoting the software to users in the country.

Use of computers is still in its infancy in so far as institutions for the visually handicapped are concerned. But many of them are aware of the potential of the computer for a promising career for the disabled.

The basic multilingual editor without sound has found substantial use with people interested in learning Indian languages, in particular Sanskrit.
 

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Question11:
How is it that people do not seem to know about the software, if it is so useful to the country?
Answer:
Yes, only now are people getting to know about it. the community of visually handicapped persons were the first to talk about it prominently and gave it some coverage in national newspapers. It appears that it is too good to be true, especially since it is given free.

The software from IIT Madras evolved over a period of nearly a decade and very little was said about the same till trials by the visually handicapped established its usefulness. In the past, careers for visually handicapped  persons were never really centered around the use of  computers and in many institutions, computers were not viewed as being useful, much less being important. That being the case, one is not surprised that people do not know about the software from IIT Madras. Doordarshan and other television networks have carried brief presentations on the work done at IIT Madras as well the activities of Vidya Vrikshah.

Question12:
What type of a computer is required to run the software?
Answer:
The Software developed by IIT Madras may be used on different computers in a more or less uniform way. The software for the visually handicapped has been made available for systems running Windows 95/98/Me. The multilingual software including the text editing program is available for systems running Linux, the freely available Operating System. Essentially, the equivalent of an IBM PC, with a 486 or higher CPU would be adequate.

Almost any Personal computer based on a 486 or higher processor, with a minimum of 32 Megabytes of memory can easily run the text to speech software. Hard disk space is about fifty Megabytes. The system should have a sound card. Almost any PC available today (Feb. 2002) will meet this requirement. A CD-ROM drive is not necessary but will help during installation of the software.

Vidya Vriksha, the volunteer organization, has been helping some visually handicapped persons get a reasonable configuration of a system for about Rs. 25,000/-. These are systems assembled in India but promoted with the help of persons committed to helping the disabled.

Government and Private organizations often get rid of older systems at throw away prices. Organizations for the disabled may procure them and get them refurbished at less than a few thousand Rupees each to run the IITM software.

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Question13:
One has heard of reading machines for the visually handicapped. Can the IITM software be used for this purpose?
Answer:
Reading Machines (like the Kurzweil reader) have been very popular in the west. They allow visually handicapped persons take a regular book and put it on the reader for it to read out the text page by page. Many organizations in India have heard about these readers which are good but quite expensive, running into more than sixty or seventy thousand rupees. Kurzweil machines are available in a few places and with some visually handicapped citizens.

These machines cannot handle text in Indian languages. Consequently they cannot be used meaningfully in the context of rural population or those living away from urban areas. The technology required to build these machines to handle books printed in Indian languages is sufficiently complex and is yet to be proven in the country. The other problem with the machine is that a physical copy of the book is required. This may not be an easy proposition since books are difficult to print.

The IIT Madras system recommends that an electronic copy of a required book be prepared once after obtaining the clearance from the authors for its use for visually handicapped persons. This copy could be put on a web server and made available to organizations for the visually handicapped on line. This way a single copy of a book may be simultaneously shared by even a thousand students. Text books required for school and college education are best made available in this manner not only to students of one organization but people all over the country. The Multilingual speaking web browser from IIT Madras can be very helpful in this regard.

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Question14:
Does the IIT Madras software produce output in Braille? Can books be published in braille using the software?
Answer:
Yes, very much so. The IIT Madras system is the only known system available in the country for producing books directly in Braille. The software allows Braille documents to be printed directly using standard Braille embossers available with many organizations for the Visually handicapped. The document produced will be in Bharati Braille.

As of January 2002, Matruchhaya, a volunteer organization run by the Canara Bank Relief Society in Bangalore, has been using the IITM Software to print Braille Text Books in Kannada. The text in Kannada is typed in by visually handicapped persons but on screen proof reading of Braille is done by sighted volunteers.

An advantage of the software is that a provision has been made to preview the Braille output on the screen of the computer before a printout is taken. This allows quick and efficient proof reading of the document before printing.
 

Question15:
Are there organizations familiar with the software? Can they be approached for help?
Answer:
Since June 1999, many organization for the Visually handicapped in the country have come to know of the software. IIT Madras has indeed installed the initial versions of the software in many places so that visually handicapped may get to know the same. Personnel from the NAB in many cities, Schools for the visually handicapped, Individual families with visually handicapped children have had the benefit of free training at Vidya Vriksha in Chennai. To date more than two hundred and fifty persons have become familiar with the editor and the related utilities. If there is an office of the NAB near your place, you may get in touch with them for details. They in turn can contact IIT Madras for additional details.

In October 2001, Indian Overseas Bank Chennai, arranged a special program for its Visually handicapped employees.

One can always get information relating to the software by contacting IIT Madras or Vidya Vrikshah by post or email.

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Question16:
How can a visually handicapped person get a copy of the software?
Answer:
A copy of the software is given free to each person or group trained by Vidya Vrikshah. The software is thus made available only through organizations for the visually handicapped. A minimal amount of training is required before a person can use the software. The free training provided by Vidya Vrikshah runs for three days. The earlier four day program has now been adjusted to be completed within thee days.

The basic software from IIT Madras is freely downloadable from the Lab's web site (see reference at the end). The speech enhanced software is bulky (about 50 Megabytes) and is supplied on CDs.

Question17:
One has heard of the use of the Internet by visually handicapped persons. How will the IITM software help in this case?
Answer:
The IITM software for the Visually handicapped also includes some standard English based applications for use with the Internet. These applications use the freely available JAWS for DOS screen reader. The applications include a speaking web browser, an email client and a chat application which allow the user to look at the Internet and interact with others. The special version of the web browser will also permit reading web pages containing text in Indian languages.

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Question18:
How can organizations for the visually handicapped persons  help promote the use of the software?
Answer:
The software is given free to all organizations and institutions serving the cause of the visually handicapped. Each organization may get one or two persons trained in the use of the software and get a copy of the software for their use as well as for distribution to other volunteer organizations. From time to time, it is possible that computer systems are given away by corporate institutions and some public sector undertakings, when the systems get a bit old and replacements are due. We can think of such systems being given to the volunteer organizations who can then use them to train the disabled in their region. The volunteer organizations can introduce the software to school children and elder citizens and help prepare documents for use by the handicapped. A self sustained activity emerges as result of such cooperation.

Question19:
What information services may be offered or run, using this software?
Answer:
You can publish bulletins, small newspapers, posters and such in your regional languages. You can setup virtually any service that can work on the basis of a data base. You will be able to setup web pages easily and almost any matter of importance to your community may be served electronically.

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Question20:
Is the software truly multilingual? What are the languages supported?

Yes, the software is truly multilingual. The same software will work in all the following languages allowing you to work with computers in a uniform manner, no matter which language you choose to use.

Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Bengali, Oriya, Telugu, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam and of course English.

You will also be able to mix several languages in a single document.

Recent versions of the software work with URDU as well though a little bit of refinement is still required.

If you are required to prepare documents in different Indian languages, you need not look elsewhere. The following scripts are also effortlessly handled by the software.

Sinhalese, Japanese Kana, Hebrew, Arabic, Avestan.

Question21:
Is there a web site giving information about the software?
Answer:
Yes, The Systems Development Laboratory, where this project runs, maintains its own web site called the Acharya web site.

http://acharya.iitm.ac.in/

At this site you will also be able to see how thousands of people in the world have learnt the basics of Sanskrit, through the on-line lessons.

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Question22:
Will the IITM software allow a visually handicapped person become a computer expert, say a programmer?
Answer:
The answer is a certain "Yes". As to how many will really want to do this is a different question, for the idea is to make the computer meaningful for a disabled person but not really make a professional out of him/her. Becoming a Professional may not be what every one prefers these days so long as some basic skills can be gained.

Question23:
IIT Madras is an educational institution committed to Technical education. Why is it involved in the exercise of of helping the disabled?
Answer:
True, the name IIT is associated with technical excellence in education. As part of the education imparted, IITs also equip the students with the skills to design products and systems which can be of help to the people. In providing aids for the disabled to overcome their disabilities, one sees the best combinations of technical solutions and social relevance. With a willing student community, you have the best resource for such development.
 

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Question24:
What is the reason for the software to be given free, when almost all Indian language software packages are sold? Commercialization of a useful computer program seems to be the order of the day.
Answer:
This is a very important question and not an easy one to answer in a sentence. All along, people in India have had difficulty in investing in software simply because of the costs involved. Though the situation is changing now, there is the question of affordability. The average Indian cannot simply afford to invest in thousands of Rupees worth of Software unless he/she finds direct daily benefit from the investment, as is the case with a Television set.

What we are talking about is Education and literacy where the aim is to impart basic skills and knowledge to a citizen so that tomorrow he/she is in a position to use the skills for leading a meaningful life. Such education will fail miserably if a price tag is attached to it. On the other hand, an opportunity to learn can be provided and the importance of the need to educate children and others emphasized, if the associated process does not involve an expenditure for the person. If you offer "Prasad" in a temple or provide a free meal in a Dharmasala, people do honour you by accepting it, for they realize that it serves a purpose. You have something to look forward to every day and will not have to pack up and go unlike a fast food joint which shows up, impresses and then is forced out. The "Prasad" is eternal, for it reflects a part of our great tradition of sharing with others what we have.

Also, educational institutions should share their strengths with the people of the country, who are truly responsible for the existence of the institutions. The decade of work done at IIT, was effected with the determination that the results should benefit the common citizen. By freely distributing it one establishes a healthy practice of sharing knowledge or a resource which helps gain knowledge. By involving volunteer organizations, the job is made easier. There is pride when you a see smiles in a group when a job is accomplished to satisfaction. We are now beginning to see such smiles.

Often, we have been told that what is given free is worthless, for otherwise we would not be giving it free. In the west they often say "there is no free lunch". The tradition of our country says the opposite. You do get free lunches and they serve the purpose well. We never need to advertise that we do offer free lunches, for people know that this tradition is maintained in many places. For the disabled and underprivileged, the software from IIT Madras is a free lunch, good enough to satisfy their hunger for basic knowledge and skills.

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Question25:
People in villages and rural areas do not get the benefits of basic education itself. Schools do not have basic resources. How do you suppose you can use computers under such circumstances. Who can afford them?
Answer:
Schools are still required for imparting basic education to the children and they cannot as yet think of benefiting directly from the IT revolution. What we are saying is that the process of education can also be present outside the school environment, supplementing what gets taught at school. IT cannot replace conventional teaching under any circumstances. It must however be recognized that the process of learning cannot involve agony, something that is always seen to coexist with disability. The computer can be a wonderful aid in the learning process. If it is a resource that cannot be made available in a school, it can certainly be made available nearby in the house of a volunteer. Out of a hundred who may get the benefit of attending some school, may be just five or six will show the determination to use the new approach but these five or six will be the roots which will support the activity for the coming generation. There is no hope otherwise.

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Question26:
As a person interested in matters of social relevance, how can I help?
Answer:
The best way you can help is to volunteer your services for the cause of the disabled. Vidya Vrikshah is a volunteer organization which operates from Chennai. Free training programs are conducted by Vidya Vrikshah in the use of the software. You can also help start a branch of Vidya Vrikshah in your town, taking support from school children and college students who can teach disabled persons the use of the multilingual editor.

Please look at the web site maintained by the Systems Development Laboratory.

http://acharya.iitm.ac.in/disabilites/

Here you will find detailed descriptions of the software and on line demos. You may download the software and demonstrate it to the people in your area and encourage schools and other organizations for the visually handicapped to use the software. You may also seek the help of other volunteer organizations in your area to set up a few machines for use by the disabled.

Question27:
How will anyone be able to provide support for maintaining the software if it does become popular? IIT cannot obviously worry about this on a country wide basis.
Answer:
IIT Madras has provided the basic development tools for building computer applications in Indian languages. Students in Engineering colleges of the country may take up specific projects related to their region. In using the software, they will become familiar with the design principles. Once people get used to the software, maintenance will be easy. After all, the country has the best available human resource in her students.
 

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Question28:
Is the IIT Madras software useful for Visually handicapped persons alone? Will it be of use to others with different kinds of disabilities?
Answer:
The main aim or goal in designing the software was to make computing possible in the regional languages. Speech based output is one aspect of the software that can cater to visually handicapped persons. There are other ways the software can be used by people with different types of disabilities. The computer can provide a meaningful approach to communicating with the disabled in their own mother tongue. This was the main theme of the deliberations during the INTEND 2001 conference held at Chennai. INTEND stands for INformation Technology ENablers for persons with Disabilities. The participants at the conference unanimously voted for the use of the IIT Madras software as a national solution for imparting education to all the disabled, since it addressed the problem of using computers in one's own mother tongue.

Question29:
Is there any provision in the IITM software to work with English and run standard applications so that a visually handicapped person already familiar with English can get some benefits?
Answer:
Yes. The IITM software includes a special interface program which allows JAWS for DOS to run under Win95 and thus permit many standard text based applications to be used by the visually handicapped.

JAWS for DOS has been made available free of charge by Henter and Joyce, the firm that developed the software. JAWS for DOS traditionally used an external speech synthesizer and thus could not be used directly on a PC with a sound card.

The development team at IITM has come up with an interface program that allows JAWS for DOS to work with any standard PC running Windows 95/98 without having to install an external speech synthesizer. This approach has many advantages. While allowing virtually all Text based applications running under DOS to continue to work under Windows with sound support, many new Windows compatible applications (known as 32 bit applications) can be run with full screen reading functions. In fact, many important internet based applications including email, chat, web browsers and the like may be comfortably run this way.

The really beneficial aspect of this is that the first level training given to the visually handicapped in the use of the keyboard, can now be given easily.

The following applications which are true 32 bit Windows applications have been tried with the IITM interface and found to work very well.

PC PINE : A popular email client

XCHAT : A popular chat client which is compatible
with IRC.

LYNX : The standard text based web browser which can be directly run with the interface for sound. IITM has in fact enhanced LYNX to include screen reading functions without having to go trough JAWS for DOS. This allows easy identification of the hypertext links and other URLs on a displayed page allowing the visually handicapped to browse the web with ease. Lynx also supports the playing of audio files.

Many UNIX applications now can run under Windows, thanks to the efforts by the CYGWIN group. Several powerful Unix utilities still continue to run in text mode, such as the all popular Telnet or ftp clients. These have now been compiled to run under windows and can utilize the IITM interface to work with JAWS for DOS. There is virtually no limit to the set of applications that can be run this way.

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Question30:
Whom should I contact if I want more information?
Answer:

You can contact Prof. Kalyana Krishnan at IIT Madras or The Vidya Vrikshah Trust. Here are the addresses.

1. R. Kalyana Krishnan
    Professor of Computer Science
    and Engineering
    IIT Madras 600 036, Chennai

    Tel:  044-257-8333
    email: rkk@shiva.iitm.ernet.in
              rkk@acharya.iitm.ac.in

2. Sri. N.Krishnaswamy
    Vidya Vrikshah Trust
    9, Thiruveedhi Amman Street
    R. K. Nagar, Mandaveli
    Chennai -600 028

    Tel: 044-493-7926
     email: umaks@vsnl.com

3. You may also wish to talk to those who have received training at Vidya Vrikshah. A list of names along with contact addresses is available at the linked site.
 

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