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Software for the Visually Handicapped

LLF2BRL- Utility to convert Indian language text to Bharati Braille

Braille output from text prepared using the IITM multilingual editor.

  The Multilingual editor is a useful application for preparing text in different Indian languages. Text prepared using the editor may be transcribed into Bharati Braille using the llf2brl utility. llf2brl  converts the text in a .llf file to the Braille codes consistent with Bharati Braille.

  It may appear to the reader that the Multilingual Editor itself might do the job of conversion. This is indeed the case but in practice Braille documents are formatted to conform to certain specifications. In general, a properly formatted Braille output would utilize all the 40 columns to conserve space. In otherwords, Braille documents are formatted much like the web pages of today, where a paragraph is represented through one long string of text without line break characters. It is therefore necessary to format the output from the multilingual editor to the required specifications.

   It is often the case that Bharati Braille documents also include text in standard English. Such text should be transcribed into Grade2 Braille. These requirements cannot be met by the Multilingual Editor and hence the need for the special ll2brl utility.

The llf2brl.exe utility provided as part of the IITM software package for the visually handicapped, is a command line based utility which may be run from the DOS command prompt or a Linux Shell prompt.. The utility is invoked as

 llf2brl -i inputfile -o outputfile

  Here the input file is the .llf file prepared using the IITM editor, containing the text to be embossed in Braille. The output file is the name you wish to give to the text file that will contain the Braille codes. This output file will be in plain text form.

  llf2brl will transcribe Indian Language text into Bharati Braille. However, no formatting is done on the output. In practice, Braille output should be formatted to conserve paper. For printing the output on a Braille embosser, a freely available utility called nfbtrans can be used. "nfbtrans" is a powerful transcription utility with many features which include the generation of Grade-2 Braille (Braille with contractions). "nfbtrans" is also a command line based application. "nfbtrans" can be used to add contractiions in a selective fashion. Since Bharati Braille has not really standardized contractions for Indian language, " nfbtrans" should be used to produce Bharati Braille output without adding any contractions. In other words, nfbtrans is used primarily to control the Braille embosser and print the codes specified in the file passed on to it for printing.

   The Braille output produced by llf2brl may be easily  checked or proof read by using any text viewing program (e.g., wordpad, word etc.) and the text viewed using the Braille fonts (rnib fonts). Also this approach could be used for formatting the page before embossing.

  Here is a brief description of the steps involved in getting output in Bharati Braille.

1. Use the multilingual editor to prepare the text in indian languages. This would be a .llf file say sample.llf.

2. Invoke the llf2brl utility from a command prompt to first convert the .llf file into Bharati Braille codes. Let the name of the output file be sample.brl

C:>llf2brl sample.llf sample.brl

3. Open sample.brl as a text file using any standard text editor and display the text in Braille using the braille fonts. Format the text as required, if the output from llf2brl is not adequately formatted for direct embossing.

4. Invoke nfbtrans from the command prompt and specify that the input file (in this case sample.brl) should be prepared for embossing. The resulting file can be sent directly to the embosser, again through nfbtrans. Please go through the pages in the Braille Tutorial to see why transcribed Braille codes cannot be directly sent to the embosser.  

  Please note that the above process involves the use of a GUI based application for proof  reading.  This might cause some problems for the visually handicapped. However, proof reading and formatting could still be accomplished using Edit under DOS if the person is familiar with the ASCII codes for the braille cells. The IITM supplied application which works with Jaws for Dos under Microsoft Windows can be effectively used by the visually handicapped to accomplish the task.

Note on nfbtrans

  "nfbtrans" is supplied as a free utility running under DOS or Unix in text mode and is thus usable by visually handicapped persons who have access to a screen reader on their machines. nfbtrans comes with its own setup utility which may be used to install it. Detailed instructions for using the software are included in the distribution. The URL for nfbtrans is,

Using llf2brl and nfbtrans together to transcribe multilingual text which includes English

  When Indian language text is mixed with English, the transcription rules to be applied will differ based on the language/script in the document. Typically English text would be transcribed into Grade-2 Braille while the text in Indian laguages will be transcribed into Bharati Braille without any contractions. The llf2brl utility provides some additional features for controlling the format of the output. For this purpose, special tags have been defined. These tags are inserted into the local language document and will be processed by llf2brl to produce an intermediate form which contains the directives for nfbtrans.

  This intermediate form is also a text file which can be edited using a standard text editor. The advantage of this approach is that essential formatting directives can be introduced in the .llf file itself. The tags provided allow for centering text, inserting line breaks, selectively transcribe into Grade-1 or Grade-2 Braille and automatically format to a specified width (number of columns).

   The Readme file prepared by SDL and included with the llf2brl utility has detailed information relating to proof reading and formatting.


About Braille Embossers

About Screen Readers

Formatting issues
A Braille document has to conform to many conventions in respect of formatting so that much of what one will see in printed documents may also be discerned by the Visually Handicapped. The linked page discusses how fomrmatting commands may be included in llf2brl.


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