Enabling the Disabled
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.
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.
the disabled involves the following
of IITM Multilingual Software
Creating an environment for
the disabled to get educated using appropriate Assistive Technologies.
Creating schools that offer
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
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.