Asia-Pacific, Assistive Technology, July 19 2019

A new software developed by Bengaluru students will completely change the way visually challenged students access maps and images in Braille books. ‘Soft-Braille’ — a software developed by the faculty and students of information science and engineering department of MS Ramaiah Institute of Technology (MSRIT) has made it easier to print images and maps on common Braille stationary using just a dot-matrix printer, a huge leap from earlier days when such an exercise required high-quality swell paper and expensive thermal printers.

And the best part is that the price for printing a page has now come down to Rs 5 per page with the help of the software from the earlier Rs 70 to Rs 100. Dr Mydhili K Nair, Professor and UG Programme coordinator at MSRIT said, “Braille textbooks have a separate appendix featuring all the images related to the text. Reading a chapter and searching for a descriptive image in the appendix is always challenging for the students. But by using the software, images related to the chapter can easily be printed on the same page and it is much cheaper than the conventional method.”  Dr Mydhili along with D Jagadeesh Sai, Lincy Meera Matthews and students of the Information Science and Engineering wing under the guidance of HoD Dr Vijayakumar BP worked extensively on the software. Funds from Saroj R Dusad Trust helped the team in designing the software.

Mathru Educational Trust, Yelahanka, has already begun using the software from this academic year. In more good news, the MSRIT is offering the software free of cost to all schools teaching visually challenged students. The software pack comprising three applications – Soft-Braille, TALK-Tactile Auditory Learning Kit and Auducator. TALK allows students to trace outlines of the images. “As soon as they trace, say a map or the image of an organelle in biology, pre-loaded audio label tells these children what they have traced,” explained Jagadeesh. The ‘Auducator’ app is specifically designed to help students understand concepts in mathematics. “Based on the number of repetitions of a sound, the students are taught to add, subtract and solve basic arithmetic problems,” said Lincy.

Speaking to DH, Gubbi R Muktha, founder and managing trustee of Mathru Educational Trust, said the software also allows special children to learn on their own. “If the methods developed by them is used in Braille textbooks, it will improve the comprehension of students,” said Muktha. The developers are currently working on vernacular versions of the software.

Originally Posted in the Deccan Herald