Parmeet has just cleared his class 12th exams with 78% marks. This student of JPM Senior Secondary School at Blind Relief Association is an avid musician and a tabla player. Surprisingly it's his love for music that inspired him to develop this software. Parmeet believes computers bridge the gap between the 'normal' society and blind people. And it should be made a mandatory subject in all blind schools. Eyeway correspondents, Meeti Sethi and Padmini talk to Parmeet at his school where he shares his aspirations and future plans.
Braille Notation is fully accessible to blind people. Earlier, though a blind person could write with a Braille Keyboard, he/she still needed the help of a sighted person to do the editing functions for him, like, saving, printing or changing the font size. With my software, a blind person can independently write and perform all editing functions through speech commands. Just like the Brailler (a type writer for Braille), even here, the writing is done with the help of a Braille keyboard, and the same is displayed in Hindi in form of text.
The software is still in an experimental stage and there's always scope for more improvement. I am now working on using the synthesizer to assist in reading because as of now the software can only read character by character.
It all started when I expressed my desire to take my class 12th music exam. Since the theory exam involved writing music notations, my music teacher, Doctor Pratap advised that it might not be possible to take the exam independently. But getting a writer who could write and understand musical notations was very difficult.
It was then that I decided to find a way to write notations with the help of my Braille keyboard. I managed to find a solution within a few days. After that, it took me about four to five months of continuous hard work to successfully develop this software. I am happy that I could use the same to appear for my music theory exam. This software enabled me to write all musical notations and also converted them into speech.
Yes. I got full support of my teachers and the institute. I could work for long hours at a stretch, because here, at the Blind Relief Association we are allowed to use our personal computers in our rooms. My friends were always there to encourage me. They may not have been able to give me the technical support but their emotional support goes a long way in my success.
Yes. You can say that my examination became a reason for me to develop this software. There is no doubt that at one point, appearing for my exam was the aim, but, at the same time making a software that is accessible to all blind people was also kept in mind. Braille Notation is very useful for a blind person in his day to day life. Since a Braille keyboard is used for this, a blind person who knows Braille can independently work with this software. He can type his own applications and write his own assignments, without having to pay Rupees 15 to 20 per sheet to the writers.
As of now, I am happy to share my software with my friends and class mates, or with those who have an interest in music. To comercialise the product, I am told, there a lot of legal procedures to be completed. Of course, I would want someone to help me go through these procedures once my software is ready for marketing.
My interest in music dates back to my childhood days. I started with religious music. At the age of seven I gave my first stage performance in front of about 2000 audience. It was a 'Bhajan' in 'Raag Bilawal'. Now my focus is on 'ghazals' and classical music. I also play the 'tabla', but I really enjoy singing 'ghazals'. I also like film songs but my interest is towards classical music.
Programming is my hobby. As far as career is concerned, music will be my first choice. I want to graduate in music honours after school and also pursue my interest in vocal singing.
I belong to Himachal Pradesh. My parents work there in a boarding school. I have a younger brother, studying in class eleventh in the same school. They are all happy with my success. They have always encouraged me to push myself harder and not let anything come in the way of me and success.
Surely, it is not less important than what it is for a sighted person. Infact I feel it is more important for blind people to be familiar with computers. The world is moving at a very fast pace technically. There's no reason why a blind person should be left behind. Here, we face a practical problem, which is the availability of computers. Everyone wants to learn but unfortunately enough computers are not available. The Government and the N.G.O.'s should work in this direction. Not just in urban, but also in rural areas. Why should all blind people come to cities to learn computers? Such facilities should be provided in the villages as well.
I welcome all suggestions to improve upon my work. It is very important to share ideas with each other, especially with a programmer. I feel when technical support is given to an idea, a new development will emerge which will surely be useful somewhere or the other.