Delhi University is in the process of installing a special technology which can scan books and transcribe text to speech in all its libraries, a move which the varsity claims is a first-of-its-kind initiative for visually-challenged students by an Indian university.
The technology called 'Inclusive Print Access Project' is a combination of software which has been imported from abroad to suit the needs of the visually-challenged students.
The various software have been assembled to form a suitable package by the varsity's Equal Opportunity Cell.
"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," Anil Anjea, Officer on Special Duty at EOC, said.
"We just want to ensure that the students don't remain dependent on readers and can study and work in an independent fashion as other students. Certain universities abroad have this technology but in India we are the first one to have such reading machines and accessible system assembled in a comprehensive manner," another EOC official Bipin Tiwari said.
The 'Inclusive Print Access Project' includes a high- speed camera called 'LEXAIR' and a flat-bed scanner.
"The student will hold the book in same manner as other students and the camera and scanner will capture the images and transcribe the text into speech. The software also allows scanning the book, reading, converting it in PDF and much more. The students can book mark various portions and also right notes in the margins," he elaborated.
The technology, which can transcribe English and Hindi texts, cannot read images and handwritten text.
"We have got a 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," Aneja said.
Besides this, the project also includes a software called 'braille space' in which the students can record their assignments and convert them into written text.