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Enabling the Disabled

  Technological innovations in computer hardware and software have given us a number of aids for the disabled, making it possible for a large number of persons affected by blindness, deafness or motor disabilities to use computers in meaningful ways to overcome their disabilities. 

  The spontaneous response of the world community towards extending the ideas and concepts behind "Assistive Technologies", to include new methods permitting the disabled to access the world wide web itself, has been overwhelming. Volunteer organizations have played a major role creating meaningful applications that let the disabled work with Computer systems with as little difficulty as possible.  The contributions from the Industry have been no less praiseworthy.

  Disabled persons can use computers meaningfully for their basic education. Also, the skills they develop in using computers often permit them to take on responsibilities just like normal persons. In the developed world, special facilities are extended to help the disabled move around, work in buildings without having to heavily rely on the support from persons around. Techological advances, especially in the fields of precision manufacture and Electronics have resulted in products which go a long way in helping the disabled cope with their specific disabilities.

  The situation in India is different since technology is not affordable by majority of the citizens specifically those who live in rural areas. Also, knowledge of English which is required for learning the technologies is not something one can expect from this population. Over the years, volunteer organizations and Government bodies have worked together to provide assistive devices but here again, progress has been slow.

  Information Technology holds a lot of promise for helping the underprivileged and the disabled in their education. Skills are also required for training them in the use of Computers. Inclusive education in schools is desirable from the point of view of basic education where Assistive Technologies could be deployed effectively to help the disabled gain basic skills to complete their school or college education.

Enabling the disabled involves the following

  • Creating an environment for the disabled to get educated using appropriate Assistive Technologies.
  • Creating schools that offer inclusive education.
  • Using Information and Communication Technologies effectively to help the disabled in their daily lives.
  • Training children and adults to gain the skills necessary for meaningful employment.
  • Disseminate effectively the body of knowledge gained in using the new technologies using the Internet.
  • Allow the disabled to create new technologies based on their experiences in using exisiting facilities.
  • Allow dissemination of information relating to these advances in a language that disabled people can readily appreciate.
Role of IITM Multilingual Software

  Systems Development Laboratory, IIT Madras has been fortunate in being able to extend some help, minimal as it is, to the Visually Handicapped in India. That "Sound" is the basis of any language has led the lab to design computer applications which feature text to speech output. The warm response we have received from all parts of the country has been an encouraging factor in the continued development of newer applications. The page on "Our support for the disabled" has additional details.


Reference Information


Creating Accessible documents

Assistive Technologies

Software support
(from SDL, IIT Madras) 

The computer offers a number of possibilities for the disabled to be rehabilitated in meaningful ways.

The essence of IIT's involvement in this is the provision for a person to work in his.her own mother tongue when using a computer.

The technologies developed as part of this effort have been effectively deployed in India by volunteer organizations.
The user interface issue addresses not only the Indian languages but many other languages of the world which employ syllabic writing systems.

The concept of treating Braille as another script is novel and this has made possile seamless integration of Braille transcription in Indian languages, with multilingual applications.

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Last updated on Apr.  8, 2006    Best viewed at 800x600 or better