Primary Reading Writing Tool for Visually Impaired- Indo-NVDA

In a country that is home to about 15 million visually impaired individuals, creating opportunities and making technological advancements becomes of utmost importance. One such unique endeavor is the NVDA (non-visual desktop access) screen reading software. It was developed originally by NV Access, Australia and further modified in order to benefit the Indian population by the research team in India, Mr. Dipendra Manocha being the principal investigator.
Making the world wide web more accessible and enhancing web inclusively opens up many doors for the visually impaired individuals. For blind people to use a computer, they need a screen reader which reads the text on the screen in a synthetic voice or with a braille display. However, most of the screen reading software available currently are too exorbitantly priced for the Indian population. In an interview with Christine Preusler, Michael Curran one of the two developers of NVDA admitted that “The extra software that enabled me as a blind person to use a computer was, in many cases, more expensive than the operating system — and, indeed, sometimes more expensive than the computer itself.” After losing his vision at the age of 15 Michael was granted a computer outfitted with accessibility software through charity.He started to develop Nvda after realizing the cost factor that limits the use of commercial software. Other software though helpful are most often prohibitive for the general population due to high costs.
Indo Nvda is an enhanced and updated version of NVDA, which is specially customized for Indian users which include 14 high-quality voices and 7 Indian languages (Indian English, British English, American English, Hindi, Bhojpuri, Bengali, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, and Marathi). The innovation also provides support for different keyboard layouts and includes technical support and training in Indian time zone and Indian languages.
The original Nvda software, when launched in India, had two vocalizer voices for the Indian population namely ‘Lekha’ for Indian Hindi and ‘Sangeeta’ for Indian English. These being robotic and synthetic voices, users often complained about lack of clarity due to hitching sounds and other disturbances.The Indo Nvda was later developed with 14 different vocalizer voices which were customized for the Indian population for example ‘Rishi, Sangeeta and Veena’ for Indian English, ‘Neel and Lekha’ for Hindi, ‘Ananya’ for Marathi, ‘Alpna’ for Kannada, ‘Geeta’ for Telugu etc. Indo Nvda proved to be a key for education and employment for thousands of visually impaired people in India. It supports popular applications including web browsers, email, internet chatting, and office programs including word and excel.The instructions and links for downloading this software are available at Skasham website. The DVD of the software comes with Itools and self-learning tutorial package from Enable India.
In a world where technology is indispensable for every individual, it is unfortunate than computers remain inaccessible to millions of blind people which severely limits their access to employment and education.Indo Nvda currently is a small but remarkable endeavor that has in a great many ways improved quality of life for thousands of visually impaired people in India.


Arunima Anand

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