In a first-of-its-kind initiative for visually challenged students, Delhi University is working on Inclusive Print Access Project, a special technology that can scan books and transcribe to speech in libraries. The technology is a combination of software which has been imported from abroad. It includes a high-speed camera called ‘LEXAIR’ and a flat-bed scanner.
Anil Aneja, Officer on Special Duty at Equal Opportunity Cell (EOC), stated: “There are certain universities which have taken initiatives to meet the demands of the blind students but making special rooms for them or providing them scribes won’t really help. We wanted to keep them in the same atmosphere as the other students.”
The student will hold the book in a manner that would allow the camera and the scanner to capture the images and transcribe the text into speech. This technology will enable scanning the book, reading, converting it in PDF and book mark various sections and take notes in the margins. However, the technology cannot read images and handwritten texts.
“We have got software from Germany which can transcribe Hindi books. While the accuracy level for English text is 99 per cent, for Hindi books it is around 90 per cent but it will serve the purpose to a large extent,” added Aneja.
The project also includes software called ‘braille space’ in which the students can record their assignments and convert them into written text. Another feature is the NVDA software which will help the students in reading newspapers and browsing Internet.
The installation of this technology is estimated to cost around Rs 50,000 per college and is being implemented in 65 libraries of DU’s colleges, institutes and departments. The technology is expected to be operational in all DU libraries by end of this month.