Being visually impaired himself, 15-year-old Satveer has successfully developed a program which enables a blind person to write in Hindi using a Braille keyboard.
This program is a result of a strong desire to create and develop methods for his own convenience and also for the well being of the entire visually impaired community. Satveer believes that people with visual impairments are an equal part of the mainstream and can make a positive difference only when they start believing in themselves and helping themselves.
Let’s talk to this class XI, JPM Sen. Sec. School at Blind Relief Association and find out more about his dreams and software.
My software is called ‘Braille Face’. With this software one can type in Hindi or English with the help of a Braille keyboard. Unlike other keyboards, where the number of keys varies with the language, a Braille keyboard has just six keys. One can type in any language with these six keys.
I have given ‘Braille Face’ a synthesizer support for speech. So whatever you type in Braille will be displayed in print and also read out for the user. The best part about my program is that it has a unicode support. Unicode can transfer a file to any computer, as it is, without changing the fonts.
Every invention has three reasons behind it: inspiration, money and inconvenience. Mine was the inconvenience I faced with writers while taking my exams. A blind student’s performance, irrespective of his/her preparation, is dependent on what the writer writes. It’s too big a risk. That’s what made me think of developing a software which allows a blind person to work independently without being dependent on writers. So the first step was to develop a programme with which a blind person can write in Hindi, as most of the blind schools in India are Hindi medium.
The world is getting faster and blind people have to move faster to catch up with it. Surprisingly, Braille is faster than any language on Earth, as it has just six characters. My software brings together Braille and technology. ‘Braille Face’ can be used by anyone who has any kind of visual impairment. It has these advantages. First, as this program is Braille compatible and can write in Hindi, users don’t have to learn anything new. With just six keys, one can type in any language of one’s choice. Second, with its unicode support, ‘Braille Face’ can be accessed in any part of the world. Third, visually impaired students will have the satisfaction of writing their exams themselves. Above all my software is very cost effective.
A software is a product of brain not money. Yet, most of the software and gadgets for blind people are out of reach of common people. Some are too expensive; many are not 100% accessible for blind people. For example, a simple calculator costs Rupees 50 in the market, while a talking one costs Rupees 500, which most blind students cannot afford.
I believe any invention or device has no meaning till it cannot be used by those for whom it has been made. So while writing ‘Braille Face’, I kept these two things in my mind; 100 percent blind accessibility and cost effectiveness.
I was fortunate to have the support of my teachers and friends who continuously encouraged me. Their support played a key role in my success. Now that my program is ready to use, I plan to release it by the last week of May. Financial support is certainly required to let ‘Braille Face’ reach people. We need to set up labs where the program can be used and taught. Setting up a lab which is accessible to blind people involves a large budget. In addition, efforts should be made to manufacture devices for visually impaired people indigenously. This will reduce the cost and increase the availability.
I want to pursue my interest in computer programming. I will be trying to get admission in the I.I.T. Yes, I have started preparing for the entrance examinations. I dream of opening a training centre for blind people where one can learn and develop new programs and design accessible products right here in India.
I am also planning to launch an accounts program for blind people by August.
I play the flute and have won several prizes. I also have a keen interest in candle making and other craft work. But working on computer interests me the most. I feel as if I am sitting with friends when I am working on computer.
I think blind people should work towards making themselves more able and feel confident about their abilities. The world is moving towards globalisation, it is the need of the hour to keep up with the fast moving pace. It becomes more important for people with visual impairment to do so, as I feel this will help reduce the gap between the sighted and the non-sighted.
Nowadays, English is considered as an International language so my appeal is that the blind schools should be made English medium. This will help visually impaired people to be socially more at ease. I would like to add, that a blind person should openly share the problems he faces in his day to day life, only then can solutions be found.