Despite being totally blind, Satyasheelan Master of Government Blind School, Kasargod, effortlessly reads at least two newspapers daily. A free software-based reading tool developed by the teacher himself does the magic.
After four years of continuous efforts, Satyasheelan developed Linux Intelligent OCR Solution (LIOS), involving a scanner connected to a computer, which helps blind people read books, newspapers or any printed or web content. It runs on Ubuntu operating system, a Linux- based open source software available free of cost. His son Nalin Sathyasheelan, a BSc Computer Science student supported him in the endeavour while professionals of IIT, Hyderabad, helped him to get Malayalam OCR (Optimised Character Recognition) for LIOS.
Satyasheelan’s innovation is based on ORCA screen reader in Ubuntu which converts text into speech. The LIOS reading text has six OCR engines enabling the mechanical or electronic conversion of scanned images of handwritten, typewritten or printed text into machine-encoded text.
Other tools included in LIOS are ‘Sharada Braile Writer’ which enables visually-challenged persons to browse on Internet and ‘Artha’, a talking dictionary supporting three languages and having the facility to add more languages to it, if required. LIOS also has fun and learning tools like ‘Angela Open-talking typer’, a learning-cum-gaming tool for students, ‘Talking maths teacher’, Linux Multi Media Studio (LMMS), tool for composing music and a terminal chess game.
“When the government supplies computers for visually-challenged persons, it should ensure that the machines are user-friendly. All these tools and software I use are free of cost and available online. As there is no copyright issues anyone can use this. The Ubuntu is a direct launching OS which will not require any installation and won’t affect other Operating Systems,” Satyasheelan said.
Stressing on the need for popularising affordable technologies for the benefit of visually-challenged persons, Satyasheelan said, “Usually a screen reading software costs around `60,000, but Ubuntu has inbuilt reading software called ORCA. The government though boasts of social empowerment of the disabled, the sad fact is that the website for the Social Justice and Empowerment lacks a screen reader to help the blinds.
Being the executive member of Kerala Federation for the Blind, Satyasheelan wants every visually-challenged person to be able to experience the magic of knowledge and hence hosted all the tools developed by him on Google Code - www.lios.goolecode.com and www.sbwsourceforge.net. He is also ready to send the LIOS DVD, charging only for shipping. His email ID is firstname.lastname@example.org or contact 09446012215.