Pune, March11: A multilingual Refreshable Braille Reader for use of visually challenged persons, and having a number of novel features has been designed, manufactured and launched by the city based firm Automatic Control Equipments. This Braille Reader was recently inaugurated by the Vice Chancellor of University of Pune, Dr Narendra Jadhav, at the Laboratory for blind established at the Education Department of University of Pune, by reading of pages from the VC’s famous book ‘Aamacha Baap aan Aamhi’
The reading of any text material by sightless and very low-vision persons all over the world is achieved through the Braille script, which is a system of raised dots on a paper or a surface. This system of writing and reading being used by many blind people, was invented over 170 years ago (1834) in
One of the major forms of creating text material as books and documents is by embossing the text in six dots on a thick paper. All sightless and low vision persons are taught to read Braille in their schools and later they continue to read books embossed in Braille throughout their life, to get knowledge. Although books can be read by a sighted person, and can be tape-recorded, for later playing for the hearing of sightless persons, this method has limitations due to the fact that it has been proven by experiments that the knowledge gained by reading a book and that by merely hearing a played-back book, has a substantial difference. While ‘reading’, a person’s mind is fully concentrated in the subject matter, whereas while hearing a played text, very less of it goes in the person’s deeper memory. Also hearing of taped speech suffers from lack of random accessibility and content addressability which are specialities of printed books for the sighted, and Braille books for the blind. Braille embossed books are bulky, expensive to make, and have a limited life. A 100 pages printed book becomes a 400 pages book in Braille, uses a much thicker paper, and since the dots are embossed on the paper, after some use, become flattened and the book soon loses its usefulness. The cost of embossing a book becomes typically ten times that of the normal printed book. In spite of these disadvantages, the institutions for the blind had no choice but to emboss books and make them available to the blind.
BRAILLE MITRA is a Refreshable Braille Reader for visually handicapped and sightless people for reading in English and all 11 Indian Languages in Braille. BRAILLE-MITRA uses a new technology to have ‘soft Braille books’ which consists of Braille characters formed in a row, with each character having six dots made by smooth plastic pins, which are raised selectively, by electro-mechanical means to make a line of Braille characters. The feel of this line, to the sightless person’s index fingers is exactly same as that of ‘feeling’ an embossed Braille line in a Braille book. This Braille line, is driven by micro-computer, which provides many additional features to the reader. BRAILLE-MITRA has the great advantage that after the person ‘reads’ a line, the next line appears automatically on the same place, and the person can easily read the display word-by-word and line-by-line. BRAILLE-MITRA can keep showing any number of books ‘loaded’ in its micro-computer’s memory, and once owned, the sightless person can virtually get an unlimited number of books for Braille reading on BRAILLE-MITRA, provided of course these books are available in Braille in soft form, as a computer file. BRAILLE-MITRA is silent, changes fast and can have a variety of navigation features for the reading a truly wonderful experience.
BRAILLE-MITRA is ideally suited as a sightless person’s companion and is his window to the vast literature in English and all Indian Languages. The advantages and contributions of BRAILLE-MITRA are that an entire book in an Indian Language can be stored in the display and can be read page by page and line by line. The display has user friendly navigation controls which enable the reader to read the multi page Braille document or book in a very easy and convenient manner; with unparalleled speed. The display can be independent of a Personal Computer. The display can accept a pen-drive of 1 GB or 2 GB capacity. A 1 GB pen drive can hold about 1000 English or multiple Indian language books. The desired book can be loaded in the basic resident memory of 2MB of the BRAILL MITRA, by a command and the users can read this book, When the user wants to read another book, the required book can be loaded into the resident memory of the unit and can be read. The user can be read the Braille book loaded in the memory by means of user friendly commands like next-line, previous-line, next-page, previous-page, go to desired page number, set a book-mark and so on. BRAILLE-MITRA is compact, light weight and convenient to use. The display has six dot characters which are very comfortable and uniform to the feel for extensive reading by the hands of the users. Easy operational commands make the reading experience a pleasurable one. Fast updating of the Braille lines allows users to read from BRAILLE-MITRA at speeds of 50 to 60 words per minute or more.
Mr. Raghunandan Joshi, the Chief Architect of BRAILLE-MITRA and CTO of ACE said that ACE has conceptualized the BRAILLE-MITRA and Braille Library idea, and designed and made the BRAILLE-MITRA using entirely Indian expertise in electronics, system designing, firmware skills, knowledge of Indian Language Braille, and the expert guidance and contribution of its Principal Consultant Dr. Mhemosh Cooper, and Indian Language Consultant Mrs Meena Joshi.
The BRAILLE-MITRA has been designed in two flavors. The 16 Braille characters per line – BM-16 which is an economical unit for reading Braille lines in complete words, without any word-breaks, and the 32 Braille characters per line – BM-32 which has a longer Braille line and is useful for faster reading of books. On both units, books in English and all Indian languages can be read with ease. The display can show English and all Indian Languages. Currently available languages are English, Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, Bengali, Assamese, Oriya and Panjabi.
A significant advantage of using BRAILLE-MITRA for teaching in educational Institute for the blind is that when the syllabus for secondary and primary schools changes, the new changes can be immediately converted to Braille script by using the translation software Shree-Lipi-Braille, and the Braille text can be immediately read on the BRAILLE-MITRA, and the teachers can start teaching the new syllabus in classes, almost immediately. The hard-copy embossed books will become available after some time when they are embossed in the Braille printing presses.
A visually challenged girl rad parts of the book Agnipankh which is the Marathi translation of former President Dr Abdul
Mr Anand Latkar, leading Publisher of Marathi books and educational guides for schools said “A movement is necessary to make the Marathi and other language educational books, guides for 10th and 12th standard, college books and other technical and literary books in Braille available by all publishers and authors for use of the blind community . He further declared that his publishing house will be offering all their publications which includes guides for students of 10th standard (named Dahavi Diwali) by converting them in Braille, for free use of the Blind students who need them the most. He further appealed to all publishers to offer their respective books, by converting them into Braille, for free use of the blind community”
He further said “ All publishers of Indian languages books have now an opportunity to make their books available to the blinds, and help open the gates of knowledge to them and make a significant contribution. This will rapidly increase the literacy rate of blind persons and make different books useful for secondary, higher and professional education easily available to them. This will be great service to the society”