The Blind & The Visually Impaired                                                              


                                                                  
 

Solutions for Blind Readers , Kurzweil 1000
A talking library for the blind  "Jeevan Mathew Kurian"
Blind girls Pass the ICDL Exam with Arabic Hal Screen Reader
Blind and Visually Impaired in Syria - Dr. Nour Eldin Cheikh Obeid
My vision about Blind & Visually Impaired - Nabil Eid
What is vision impairment   
How can the Blind and Visually Impaired Handicapped use a computer system?
How can the Blind and Visually Impaired access web servers?
Activities of Blind And Visually Impaired students on computer system.

ICTARB project for Blind and Visually Impaired.

How can the Blind and Visually Impaired Handicapped use a computer system?

There are two categories of visual impairment; Those that are partially blind, and those that are totally blind. For those that are partially blind, they may make use of computer systems by means of screen magnification devices, as well as through special software that display text on the CRT through the use of extra large fonts.

For those that are totally blind, they will be unable to use their sight as a means of input and will have to rely on other senses. This could be in the form of braille output devices, which converts text that is displayed on the screen into braille characters on a 'touch-pad'. The user then 'feels' what is on the screen. Another approach is through the use of text-to-speech synthesizers. These text-to-speech synthesizers, working together with screen reading software packages seems to be the more common, and economical approach.

When the blind needs to know what is displayed on the screen, he uses a screen reading software such as Vocal-Eyes. These are terminate-stay-resident (TSR) programs that 'talk' to the speech synthesizer hardware to produce synthesized speech. The selected characters are captured off the screen by these screen reading TSRs and passed to the synthesizer hardware. Parameters such as speed, pitch and volume may be adjusted through the use of control keys on the QWERTY keyboard. The user may even selected other parameters such as local echo, whereby the character he/she types is read back to the user.

As the system overhead of generating synthesized speech is rather high on machines without dedicated DSPs(Digital Signal Processors) such as the Intel 80x86 family, the speech generating hardware operates as an external unit, independent of the processor. Interface to this hardware is made possible through the use of either the serial(RS232C), or the parallel port. In this manner, system performance is not compromised when the screen is being 'read' to the user through the speech synthesizer and screen reading software.

As such, text based software applications such as WordPerfect for DOS, The MS-DOS Text editor as well as some programming language editors are suitable for use by the visually handicapped.
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How can the Blind and Visually Impaired access web servers?
A web-based special education infrastructure holds promise for opening up new windows of opportunity for students with special needs. For example, because web page content usually consists of electronic text, a blind student can use a screen reader to audibly present and navigate the information. The font of most web browsers can also be easily increased for persons with low vision. However, aside from some of the inherently accessible properties of the Web, many barriers can be unnecessarily created on both the client and the 'service' side. The phrase client-service, instead of client-server, is emphasized because providing education is a service, and all services should accommodate persons with disabilities.
On the client side, many types of adaptive technology exist, including alternative mouse systems, alternative keyboards, voice recognition systems, refreshable Braille displays, and screen readers. These systems make it easier for persons with disabilities to access their computer and the Internet  There are several World Wide Web browsers available that vary in their accessibility features. Browsers can have keyboard equivalents for hypertext links, frame navigation and built-in alternative display modes. When creating a distance education infrastructure, it is best to create a site that is browser-independent and to avoid the use of proprietary browser features or custom HTML tags. Forcing everyone to adhere to a single type of browser is not optimal for the diversity within the special needs population.
Just like using other text based software applications, the visually handicapped are able to log on to internet providers through the use of text based communications software, such as QMODEM and KERMIT. Their access is then limited to VT100, or ANSI based emulation.
Recently developments in text to speech applications also allow Graphical User Interface to be accessible by the visually impaired.

 How can the Visually Handicapped view web pages?

The Visually Handicapped may use a text based Hypertext viewer such as internet explorer or Lynx to look at WEB pages. Although no pictures may be reproduced, the text are reproduced without any difference in content. In this manner, the visually handicapped can still surf the NET for resources that may be essential to them.

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Activities of Blind And Visually Impaired students on computer system.
New courses for Blind and Visually Impaired on Electronics program

       
      
     
     
     
     

  

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My vision about Blind & Visually Impaired - Nabil Eid

I  hope I may be able to introduce my vision about SCHR – CAI center  for the welfare of the visually impaired & the blind and how to visualize an idea  about  our aims to have an impact in social mobilization.

Some of conceptions related to our project

      *      Prevailing world  - wide social knowledge of visually impaired needs.

*      Getting the families  of visually impaired situations to create healthy and   helpful atmosphere.

*      Providing a mechanism to link visually impaired family with the information data base .

*      Issuing a postage stamp dedicated to the blind and visually impaired .

*      Shifting this information mechanism to the rural , areas  so that movable stations might be ready to help. That can be facilitated when means of transports are available.

*      It's obvious that the visually impaired program to a great extent depends on voluntary activities .The thing which makes it insecure to live long in the future. There must be future solutions .

*      There is an existing necessity that Ministries of ( Education , Culture , High education , Information and Communication Technology ) assist the program by updating curriculua that support and deal correctly with the issues of the visually impaired .

*      Learners and students will get the idea that visually impaired is not only a person to be Sympathized for but also  it is someone of creativity and has the right to live and work.

*      The issuance of postage stamp about visually impaired would give much support to their cause .

*      It's suggested that we may consider a WORLD DAY for the visually impaired .

*      Backing and facilitating efforts to setup communities with clear mottos and targets .

*      Activating internet web sites that care for the blind and the visually impaired.

*      Issuing awareness booklets and lecturing on the visually impaired people.

*      Providing the center with specialized psychiatrist to help socializing the visually impaired.

*      Implimenting a frame of cooperation between the related parties …. And concerned ministries to deeply cement the program and providing it with it's vital components ( programs – instruments – device – trainers teacher …., if we are really want to have a sound launch to a achieve the goals of our program.
Nabil Eid
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What is vision impairment?

Vision impairment means that a person's eyesight cannot be corrected to a "normal" level.  Vision impairment may be caused by a loss of visual acuity, where the eye does not see objects as clearly as usual.  It may also be caused by a loss of visual field, where the eye cannot see as wide an area as usual without moving the eyes or turning the head.

There are different ways of describing how severe a person's vision loss is.  The World Health Organization defines "low vision" as visual acuity between 20/70 and 20/400, with the best possible correction, or a visual field of 20 degrees or less.  "Blindness" is defined as a visual acuity worse than 20/400, with the best possible correction, or a visual field of 10 degrees or less.  Someone with a visual acuity of 20/70 can see at 20 feet what someone with normal sight can see at 70 feet.  Someone with a visual acuity of 20/400 can see at 20 feet what someone with normal sight can see at 400 feet.  A normal visual field is about 160-170 degrees horizontally.  

Vision impairment severity may be categorized differently for certain purposes.  In the United States, for example, we use the term "legal blindness" to indicate that a person is eligible for certain education or federal programs.  Legal blindness is defined as a visual acuity of 20/200 or worse, with the best possible correction, or a visual field of 20 degrees or less.  

Visual acuity alone cannot tell you how much a person's life will be affected by their vision loss. It is important to also assess how well a person uses the vision they have.  Two people may have the same visual acuity, but one may be able to use his or her vision better to do everyday tasks.  Most people who are "blind" have at least some usable vision that can help them move around in their environment and do things in their daily lives.  A person's functional vision can be evaluated by observing them in different settings to see how they use their vision.  A functional vision evaluation can answer questions such as these:

  • Can the person scan a room to find someone or something?

  • What lighting is best for the person to do different tasks?

  • How does the person use his or her vision to move around in a room or outside?

Vision impairment changes how a child understands and functions in the world. Impaired vision can affect a child’s cognitive, emotional, neurological, and physical development by possibly limiting the range of experiences and the kinds of information a child is exposed to.

Nearly two-thirds of children with vision impairment also have one or more other developmental disabilities, such as mental retardation, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, or epilepsy. Children with more severe vision impairment are more likely to have additional disabilities than are children with milder vision impairment.

You can learn more about vision impairment below, including answers to the following questions:·

  • How common is vision impairment?

  • What causes vision impairment? Can it be prevented?

  • What is the cost or economic impact associated with vision impairment?

  • What resources are available for people with vision impairment and their families?

  • How can we improve the health of people with vision impairment?

  • How can kids learn about vision impairment?

  • Where can I go to learn more about vision impairment?

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Links for Blind and Visually Impaired

http://www.deafblind.com/

http://www.nfb.org/default.htm

http://www.rfbd.org/

http://www.dpa.org.sg/VH/

http://www.blind.net/

http://www.cs.tcd.ie/blind-dev/

http://www.afb.org/

http://acb.org/

http://www.aerbvi.org/

http://www.nyise.org/blind.htm

http://www.gpls.public.lib.ga.us/lbph/

http://www.hotbraille.com/

http://www.ibsa.es/

http://home.golden.net/~blink/

http://www.thejoiners.net/

http://www.lowvision.org/

http://www.narrativetv.com/

http://www.navh.org/

http://lcweb.loc.gov/nls/

http://www.sabahinc.org/

http://www.tsbvi.edu/math/

http://usaba.org/

http://main.wgbh.org/wgbh/access/dvs/

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Strategic Program of Information and Communication Technology for the Socio-Economic development
Visually impaired people and Community Center

Dr. Nour Eldin Cheikh Obeid

Visually Impaired in Syria

According to the Syrian Central Bureau of statistics there are 9580 blind people

(7260M, 2320F)
But reality is totally different …number of visually impaired exceeds 55 thousand
Level of visually impaired education!!!

ReefNet in Syria
ReefNet means Rural Net
Community Centers and the Community Portal are dedicated to bridging the digital  and knowledge divide between urban and rural areas in Syria

ReefNet is one of the ICT4Dev Programme projects. ICT4Dev supports the use of ICT for the socio-economic development.ICT4Dev is a cooperation program between the Ministry of Communication and Technology/Syria and the United Nations Development Programme/Syria
The Salameih Community Center
Opened on the 20 December 2004

          17 PCs

          Internet: broadband connection

          International fax and phone

          Photocopier and printers

         ICT training for the public at large

        Training for handicapped people…especially for the visually impaired

Thanks to a cooperation program with ICTDAR,
The Visually Impaired Facility opened in June 2005
Visually Impaired: The Salameih Center is equipped with:

      •         Four Screens Reader

         Braille Printer

         Broadband Internet Connection

         Communication Facilities

         Friendly Environment
and staffed by specialized trainers and volunteers

Screen Reader

 Enables users to access the Internet and read Arabic and English Web sites.

-Allows users to send, receive, write, read, and manage E-mail.

-Converts the output of the screen into high quality human voice.

-Users can use most of the software programs in Arabic and English.

-The system benefits:

          Maintains the users' independence and privacy.

          Provides assistance for blind and visually impaired users in terms of education, culture, and career development.

 -         However, good reading of Arabic texts depends heavily on diacritical marks…

 -         Good understanding of texts without diacritical marks depends

on the cultural level of the visually impaired.

Eight month results  31 blinds trained
Most users are young


 

Gender issue persists

Most beneficiaries are educated people 

A screen reader is vital

The majority of users are students

More preferable than Braille

Impact
 





 

Samples of their typing
 

انا المتدربة الما المحمد على برنامج إبصار الذي حقق لي الأهداف المرجوة في دراستي العليا وفي الانطلاق في عالم الكتابة وصياغة المقالات الفكرية والاجتماعية .

كما حقق لي البرنامج على الصعيد المعرفي القدرة على التواصل مع المعلومات بالدخول على الإنترنت والحصول على نسخة من أي كتاب بوساطة الماسح الضوئي مما يوفر على البصير عناء البحث عمن يقرأ له هذا الكتاب أو ذاك .

ولا يقل تعلمي الطباعة بشكل سليم أهمية عن تفصيلات العمل على البرنامج إذ أصبحت أستطيع طباعة أطروحتي أو أي مقال دون اللجوء إلى مراكز الطباعة والوقوع معهم في إشكالات إتقان العمل .

كان مثل هذا البرنامج حلما من أحلامي وها هو يصبح حقيقة ولكني لا أستطيع أن أنكر أن لكل سعادة غصة فالبرنامج غالي الثمن ولايمكن أن يصبح في متناول محتاجيه إلا بمساعدة شبكة المعرفة الريفية وذلك بنشره على نطاق واسع في مراكزها الحالية وفي مراكزها المستقبلية في المحافظات كلها وأن تنشأ مراكز خاصة في الجامعات ليتمكن الطلبة البصيرين من التواصل مع برامجهم الجامعية دون العقبات الكأداء التي يعانون منها اآن .

 إن البرنامج بحالته الحاضرة يقدم كل الخدمات المطلوبة للطالب البصير ، ولكن ينبغي تدعيم ذلك بمحاضرات تعريفية بالبرنامج وأهمية استخدامه في مجالي الإعاقة البصرية وفي تدريب الأصحاء على تعلم الطباعة ومهارة العمل على الحاسوب .

يمكن توجيه الاهتمام الشديد للعناية بالأطفال البصيرين ذلك أن تدريب هؤلاء منذ نعومة أظفارهم يقوي لديهم مهارة استخدام الحاسوب ويساعدهم على تناول المعلومات فيجعلهم بذلك في مصاف رفاقهم الأصحاء ولاتعود هناك مشكلة تحول بينهم وبين منافسة رفاقهم والتفوق عليهم .ومما لاشك فيه أن حب المعرفة والرغبة في مطالعة الكتب المتنوعة تشمل البصير كما تشمل الأصحاء لذلك فإن إنشاء مكتبة الكترونية لاتقل أهمية عن استخدام البرنامج نفسه ، ويمكن أن يستخدم هذا البرنامج في إنجاز مثل هذا المشروع الهام وذلك بتحويل الكتب المطبوعة إلى نسخ الكترونية ونسخ مطبوعة بلغة بريل مما يسهل على هذه الشريحة بمراحلها العمرية كافة أن تتواصل مع أي مصدر أو مرجع  .

إن من واجبي بل من صميم قلبي أن أوجه الشكر الجزيل والدعاء بالخير لمن كان له الفضل في جلب هذا البرنامج والتوجيه لإقامة التدريبات علي ، ولمن كان لهم الفضل أيضا في إنجاز التدريبات المطلوبة ، ولكل من ساهم في إنجاح العمل على هذا البرنامج .

 ألما المحمد

Alma, a PhD candidate

انا طليب عالي الحج بدنا برنامج هين يكوين متوفار ورخييص

 

Ali started learning writing 5 months ago

Main difficulties:

         The very high price of ICT equipment

 for visually impaired people

          Lack of support from society

So, our Community Center is being transformed into a

Community Café for visually impaired people

         Audio Library

         Efficient Document Reader (OCR)
 

انا الطالب شرحبيل من برنامج المعرفة الريفية لفاقدي البصر الذي يحتوي على فقرات جميلة ولكي يكون البرنامج مساعدا ومفيدا اقترحُ الاهتمام بالماسح الضوئي لقراءة المحاضرات واطالبُ بالحرص على انشاء المكتبة السمعية وفقا لمعاير تصنيف الكتب في المكتبات العامة وبوجود مكتبة سمعية خاصة تحتوي على كتب تتبناها الكليات التي تتضمن عددا من طلاب ذوي
الاحتياجات الخاصة في مختلف السنوات والفروع. وفي نهاية المطاف أتمنى أن ينتشر هذا البرنامج في كل سوريا ويحقق كل الفوائد المرجوة منه

Thank you
www.reefnet.gov.sy
ICT4Dev- Syria-Visually impaired-ICTTA'06

Blind girls Pass the ICDL Exam with Arabic Hal Screen Reader

Focus:

Jordanian Girls Pass the ICDL Exam with Arabic Hal Screen Reader

In Amman, Jordan when a group of 16 Jordanian blind girls passed the ICDL exam with two girls achieving higher scores. What made such an event unique is the fact that the blind girls took the Arabic ICDL exam without any sighted help. The girls obtained training in the Saudi Jordanian Institute for the Blind in Amman which qualified them to take the exam. The exam was offered and supervised by the UNESCO’s office in Jordan.

The institute celebrated the success of the 16 blind girls in the presence of H. H. Prince Raed Bin Zaid, H.E. the Minster of Islamic Affairs in Jordan, H. E. the Saudi Ambassador to Jordan as well as representatives of the UNESCO’s office in Amman. Nattiq’s representative in Jordan, Mr. Mohammed Al-Shara, attended the ceremony and received a certificate of appreciation from H. H. Prince Raed Bin Zaid for Nattiq’s role in facilitating the tools required for blind users to take the ICDL exam.

Nattiq invested considerable resources to enable its State-Of-The-Art Arabic screen reader, Hal, access all required ICDL materials and exams. Hal enables blind people to access standard computer systems which opens to them doors of opportunities in pursuing challenging careers and advanced education.

Nattiq rewarded Miss. Hanan Al-Gharagheer and Miss. Rafeeda Al-Jawazmeh with a gift of Talks mobile phone screen reader for achieving the highest two overall scores in the ICDL test.

A few blind users in the Middle East passed the ICDL in the past, but they always required extensive help from a sighted person which defeats the purpose of proving that blind users can be completely independent in achieving any IT task. Arabic Hal screen reader provided those bright young ladies with the independence they were hoping to obtain in taking the ICDL exam. As a result, they succeeded magnificently”, said Auda Hazeem, Nattiq’s CEO.

Dozens of blind people are expected to pass the ICDL exam independently before the end of the year with Hal’s help

A talking library for the blind

Jeevan Mathew Kurian

Libraries are silent zones and it is no different at Farook College near this Kerala city. But sometimes in its quiet ambience you may hear a voice reading aloud in English in an accent that is not native. It is the Digital Talking Book Library. The college installed this facility at the library for the benefit of visually challenged students and aptly named it 'Insight'. 

'Insight' helps 32 blind students at the college to delve into the vast world of books without the help of Braille. The library has four computers to help such students.
The facility consists of a few computers, a scanner and a set of speakers and also headphones. Through voice prompts it helps the user operate the computer.
"Visually challenged students find it very useful. They spend hours at these machines reading books and periodicals," said M. Ayub, the
librarian.
"Its operation is simple. You scan the pages you want to read. The computer will convert it into sound bytes. The students have learned to operate the system and they are doing it without help from others," he added.
The gadget looks ordinary, but the software may baffle you.
"We are using the software Jaws and Kurzweil to operate these systems," says Habeeb C., a guest lecturer and a former student of the
college, as he operates the system with astonishing ease. He is visually challenged.
The college is planning to bring out compact discs of lectures and to install a printer which can print scanned materials in Braille. The printer is costly and it has to be imported," adds Ayub.
Farook College, affiliated to Calicut University, is run by the
Rousathul Uloom Association.
 
Jeevan Mathew Kurian can be contacted at

 jeevanmk72@rediffmail.com

Resala centre in Cairo. Most Telecentre lack software for the blind users. photo: Meddie Mayanja

Source:

http://www.ugabytes.org/telecentretimes/?c=141&a=1137

Solutions for Blind Readers , Kurzweil 1000

Kurzweil 1000 is software program that makes printed or electronic text readily available to people who are blind or visually impaired. It combines accessibility, communication and productivity tools to ease and enhance their reading, writing and learning experience.

The program speaks text aloud in a variety of natural-sounding voices that can be modified to suit individual preferences. In addition, it provides users with document creation and editing as well as study skills capabilities for note taking, summarizing and outlining text.

This program delivers quick access to a wealth of information including online books, magazines and encyclopedias so users can pursue any reading interests. They can also take their reading wherever they go by sending files to Braille note takers and embossers as well as portable devices such as DAISY and MP3 audio players.

Kurzweil 1000 is easy to use for beginners, yet powerful and flexible for advanced users. With its wide array of useful features, users save time and gain independence – whether at home, at school, or at work.

Specification of program:

·        Simple Forms Recognition and Completion
this software provides easy access to most printed forms and presents them with the fields, labels, boxes, and text areas in the appropriate reading order. You can fill in the fields, edit, save, and print. You can easily insert your handwritten signature into a form, or any Kurzweil 1000 document, once it's scanned into your computer.

·        Choices for More Accurate Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
Two OCR engines, ScanSoft© OCR and ABBYY™ Fine Reader, provide the most accurate available OCR. For the best possible scanning results, Kurzweil 1000 also has the ability to correct many errors. In addition, a noise filter option lets users ignore regions near the edge of a page that were incorrectly identified as text.

·        State-of-the-Art Speech Options Clear, natural-sounding Voice Text voices from NeoSpeech and ETI-Eloquence™ voices from Nuance deliver the highest quality text-to-speech (TTS), making reading a pleasure to hear. You can choose and adjust our many voice options to suit your individual preference.

·        Appointment Calendar with Audible Reminders
Keep track of your schedule with our easy-to-use calendar application. You can create, add, edit, and delete your calendar entries simply from the desktop taskbar, as well as set audible reminders that will play any sound file on your computer you choose.

·        Study Tools
Add bookmarks, text notes, and annotations; skim, summarize, and create outlines for your work, and have your documents open to the last position read. Professionals and students find Kurzweil 1000's comprehensive time-saving study tools extremely useful. Plus, you'll have access to eighteen bilingual dictionaries.

·        Quick Access to Scan, Photocopy, and Fax Features
Assign specific Kurzweil 1000 functions to your scanner buttons for faster scanning, copying and faxing. Once configured, pressing a single button will perform the desired task.

·        Create Documents and Work with Tables
Writing and editing documents are simple with our audible text editor, built-in dictionaries, thesaurus, and spell checker. In addition, proofreading keystrokes for reading one word at a time include punctuation and capitalization reporting. You can also create, edit, and read tables with the same ease, plus convert blocks of text to tables and vice versa.

·        Link Documents and Settings You can link settings to documents, saving you time and effort.

·        Online Information Search and Retrieval Enjoy quick access to information from a variety of sources, including e-books, magazines, encyclopedias, and the Merriam-Webster medical dictionary. Based on your criteria, Kurzweil 1000 will search select Internet repositories such as Bookshare.org, NLS Web Braille, AccessWorld, Talking Newspaper Association of the United Kingdom, NFB Publications, the Columbia Encyclopedia and Wikipedia (in multiple languages), and present you with your download choices.

·        DAISY Format Support
Kurzweil 1000 opens, reads, edits and saves text-only DAISY files, including original tables, bookmarks, links and notes. You'll also have DAISY Type 2 file support for audible document navigation.

·        Read Files Away From Home and Burn CDs
Kurzweil 1000 can send your files to BrailleNote™, BookPort™, Book Courier, Maestro™ and other handheld devices so you can read and reference important material when away from your home or office computer. You can also create CDs of your files within Kurzweil 1000 if you have a CD burner.

·        Create and Play Audio Files
It's easy to convert your Kurzweil documents to MP3, WAV and DAISY audio files. If your document contains bookmarks, Kurzweil 1000 will use them to create separate audio files so your selections will be easier to manage on your portable player. In addition, you can listen to audio files from other sources in Kurzweil 1000 along with the option to use Reading and Navigational keys for audio DAISY, and Bookmarks or Notes to annotate MP3, WAV, and WMA files.

·        Broad Range of File Access
Any file type that you can print through an application installed on your computer can be opened with Kurzweil 1000 (including PDF), which greatly expands your reading choices.

·        Other Notable Features:

o      Supports Windows Vista® operating system

o      Supports low vision users with magnification and highlighting functions

o      Provides easy access to common business applications (Calculator, Photocopier, and Fax)

o      Scans within Microsoft Word

o      Sends files through popular e-mail applications

Source:

http://www.kurzweiledu.com/