Braille is a system of raised dots that can be read with the fingers by people who are visually challenged. Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur (IIT-Kgp) have developed a unique technology via a software that enables conversion of Indian languages such as Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Telugu, Oriya and Kannada into Braille.
IIT-Kgp is also planning to go for large-scale deployment in West Bengal and other states. The Sparsha Transliteration System developed by IIT-Kgp's Communication Empowerment Lab, led by Anupam Basu, can accept Indian language texts as input and convert it into Braille.
Basu, a professor at IIT-Kgp's department of computer science and engineering, said, "The software takes any Indian language text as input in Unicode and can convert it to Braille and facilitates the production of Braille textbooks. This helps the visually challenged to access information from a variety of sources."
These converted files can then be printed out through any Braille embosser (printer for Braille). The institute recently inked a deal with Odisha's Siksha 'O' Anusandhan University to produce necessary Braille books in Odiya through Sparsha. Basu said, "It is being used in many places in India and we are planning to go for large-scale deployment. We have talked to blind schools in Bengal and also the Bengal government. We are planning to approach other state governments as well."
Among the variety of pioneering and award-winning assistive technologies developed, there is also the 'speech-enabled Baishakhi keyboard' for the visually challenged. Basu said, "Using this software, the blind people will be able to type (Bangla and English) and hear what they are typing. The purpose is that blind students who sit for exams, they need writers, that will no longer be needed. They can use internet, email themselves through the technology."