India

Annual report for July 2003 - March 2004

Dipendra Manocha
Assistant Project Manager
DAISY For All project

DFA resource centre in India

Population of 2.8 million blind and low vision persons speaking 22 different languages pose a tough challenge to provide books and information in accessible formats in India. The work of producing materials in accessible formats is the tasks performed by the Nongovernment agencies in the country. Thus there is absence of single agency in charge of such materials production. Involvement of multiple agencies in this process required adoptions of standards so that there is a possibility of cooperation and collaboration among various agencies.

Amongst such challenges and problems, effort is made to provide comprehensive solution by the establishment of the DFA resource centre in India. As a part of this resource centre following facilities were established:

DTB Production facility

Two sound proof recording studios with professional equipment have been established for direct recording. Three systems have been set up for editing and finalization of digital talking books. The facility is working on production of 3000 hours of fresh recording of DAISY books every year.

Digital to analogue conversion facility

Till the time the digital talking book players become popular, all recordings are being made available in both the Cd and audio cassette formats. It is an important concept in making DAISY Standard book production acceptable to organizations in developing countries. Two Production PCs with high quality cassette recording units are installed for this purpose. A software has also been developed to minimize the human involvement in the conversion process.

Analogue to Digital conversion facility

Facility with 4 PCs and special cassette players has been set up to convert existing talking books on audio cassettes into the Digital talking books. The system works at 8 times speed of the real time recording. ie 8 hours of recording can be converted into digital format in one hour.

Library of DAISY source documents

To enable production of books in Braille, talking books using synthesized voice and full text full audio DAISY books, a collection of DAISY source documents in e-text has been built the unit started production in November 2003 and already has a collection of 1,350 books in English and Hindi languages.

Braille production facility based on DAISY source documents

Braille conversion softwares for English and Indian languages have been installed and adopted to produce books in Braille using the DAISY source documents. This has enabled production of materials in different accessible formats from a single source file.

Digital library

12 PC based playback machines have been set up in library environment where students with blindness can read digital books. These digital books are stored on data server and also are provided on CDs.

digital-library with 12 PCs

DTB production training facility

A permanent facility for providing training and hands on experience in production of DTBs has been established. The facility was not only used in the focal point training but also offers 3 to 6 days training modules to technicians from different organizations. The centre is providing follow up training to trainees of focal point training which was held in November 2003 in New Delhi.

Digital book reading facility at 4 locations

Total of 20 PC based playback machines and 25 hardware DTB players have been set up at 4 locations such as in University, hostel for blind, mainstream school where children with blindness are integrated, etc. to create DTB reading facility

a man listening with victor reader

Software development facility

One full time software developer and a team of 9 volunteer developers are working for development and localization of DAISY playback software. The team is also working on development of full Screen reading software for local languages. The team is integrating text to speech engines developed at various technology institutes in these tools. The team includes 6 software developers who are blind themselves.

a lady recording

Achievements:

Indian language version of AMIS current software

Version of AMIS current software with Indian language support is now available. The team of developers is now an important part of development work for the new version of the AMIS DTB playback software.

Content in various Indian languages.

More than 250 titles made available in different forms of DAISY books. These books include titles in Hindi, English, Tamil, Gujarati and Telegu languages.

DTB production training provided to 16 organisations from all over the country

16 organisations in India Nepal and Srilanka have been provided training in DTB production. These trainings include 11 organisations who participated in the focal point training and 5 more organizations who have received individualized training after the focal point training.

Consultancy provided to various organizations for establishing DTB production facility:

Many organizations have shown interest in establishing the DTB production facility. These organizations have been provided with complete guidance on the issue. Tech support is also provided to organizations who are involved in DTB production.

Human resource development for

  1. DTB production management
  2. DTB production trainers
  3. Software developers for Digital books authoring and playback tools and their localisation
  4. Companies who could work on contract basis for content creation in accordance to the DAISY standards
  5. Support for DAISY standards in software development projects such as the Braille transcription software for Indian Languages.

Two technology institutes have developed Braille translation softwares for Indian languages.

Both these organizations were made aware about the DAISY standards and have subsequently added support for DAISY text books in their Braille conversion softwares.

Project started for development of Hardware DAISY book player

IIT Delhi through its Technology incubation unit started work on development of low cost hardware DAISY book player in January 2004. The project is being run in collaboration with the DFA resource centre.

Cost effective hardware and procedure development for analogue to digital and digital to analogue conversions.

Equipment for these tasks from companies like Telix etc are totally unaffordable for developing countries. DFA resource centre in India has developed special player and complete production procedure for these tasks which have become fully affordable. For example instead of the 11,000.00 USD system for analogue to digital conversion, the system developed at India resource centre costs just 400 USD.

Creating awareness about DAISY amongst government officials, organizations for and of the blind and end users.

There have been a lot of misunderstandings about the utility of DTBs for developing countries and costs involved for its implementation. The DFA resource centre has established contact with user groups, heads of organizations and concerned government officials to create better understanding about the new technology and the roll it can play in providing accessibility to information.

The DFA resource centre in India has set an example of DAISY implementation for developing countries.

The developing countries of all over the world are now able to appreciate that this technology is not meant just for the developed world but the fruits of this revolutionary concept can easily reach the persons with blindness living in the developing countries. It is worth noticing that 80% of the population of persons with vision impairment live in the developing countries. The centre is now playing an important roll in establishing focal points in other countries of the region.

Open Source Workshop 2006

Report of the AMIS Translation Workshop from April 11 to April 15 2006

Venue: National Association for the Blind, Sector 5, R.K Puram, New Delhi-110022.

Dipendra Manocha
Assistant Project Manager in New Delhi

recording in Vietnamese A five day workshop was held in New Delhi with the objective of preparation of language packs for 7 languages for the open source DAISY Digital Talking Book Player - AMIS. These language packs include translation of complete self voicing user interface of AMIS and also the full text full audio help book for the software. As a result of this workshop a new version of AMIS software will be released with complete self voicing user interface for the following languages:

  1. Hindi
  2. Tamil
  3. Urdu
  4. Arabic
  5. Indonesian
  6. Vietnamese
  7. Bangla

The AMIS software is already available for the following languages: Malay, Nepali, Sinhala, French, Japanese, and Thai. These language packs were created during the 2005 DFA Open Source Workshop.

This workshop was held as a part of the DAISY For All Project that aims to introduce and support implementation of DAISY Standards in the Developing Countries. This workshop along with the complete DAISY For All Project is funded by the Nippon Foundation. The workshop was planned to address one of the major problems of non-availability of software tools in local languages in the developing countries.

Resource Persons

Mr. Julien Quint, Mr. Daniel Weck & Ms. Marisa DeMeglio were the resource persons for this workshop. Mr. Dipendra Manocha looked after the logistics arrangements for the workshop. The resource persons had produced the web-based prompt translation modules and structures for recording the prompts and help books. The audio recording was done using Sigtuna DAR 3 . The resource persons produced script to convert the prompts and help book projects into language packs. A new version of AMIS with enhanced self voicing features and support for the new format of the language packs is being prepared for the release. This version of AMIS will be called 2.3 and will be released along with the new language packs.

The text for the document to be translated were sent one month before the date of the workshop. The language translation work was done for some languages on payment basis and for others through voluntary contribution. In most of the cases, the language translators attended the workshop for the production of final language packs. The following persons had been language translators / workshop participants for each of the languages.

LanguageTranslatorsWorkshop Participants
HindiMr.Dipendra ManochaMr Ajay Mathur and Mr. Sandeep Kaler
VietnameseMr.Le Toan Thang & Mr.Hoag Moc KienMr. Toan Thang & Mr.Hoag Moc Kien
ArabicMr. Abdul MalikMr. Abdul Malik & Mr. Prashant Ranjan Verma
IndonesianMr.Nassat D IdrisMr.Achmad Hikam and Ms. Deepika Sood
UrduMr.Aqeel Kureshi & Mr. Tanuj Malik from M/s TechnocomAqeel Kureshi, Dr. Saira, Ms Deepika Sood and Mukesh Sharma
BanglaMr.Vashkar Vattacharya & Mr. HabibMr.Vashkar Vattacharya & Mr.Habib
TamilMrs.SreejaMrs.Sreeja and Mr. Anubhav Mitra

Challenges & Highlights

  1. Sigtuna DAR 3 does not support display of Unicode characters. The resource persons had to use conversion of characters into entity representation for correct display of text content. The headings view in Sigtuna DAR 3 (sidebar) was unable to display Unicode characters, and showed only question marks.
  2. Two languages, Urdu and Arabic, were introduced which have right to left script direction. These languages were successfully incorporated in the language pack format.
  3. AMIS requires additional work in order to re-orient its user interface to accommodate right to left scripts. While the script's characters are already supported and displayed from right to left, the entire user interface (e.g., menus, navigation lists, and toolbars) should all start from the right and flow left.
  4. Due to ill health, Mr. Aqeel Kureshi could attend the workshop only for one day. The work of Urdu was completed with the support from NAB staff and the resource person invited from Jamia Milia Islamia University who kindly agreed to provide support without any prior notice.
  5. Language packs from the 2005 DFA AMIS workshop require upgrading before they can be used in AMIS version 2.3 and higher. These upgrades will be partially completed by the DFA resource persons. Full completion requires the involvement of focal point experts.