Omron Unveils “ Your Voice, Their World” – Accessible Digital Library Project in Association with National Association for the Blind, Delhi
December 17, 2013 - New Delhi, Delhi, India
-- Omron's brand ambassador Farhan Akhtar visits the center to extend his support to the project
Omron Group in India, part of Omron Japan - a global leader in automation technology - has associated with National Association for the Blind (NAB), Delhi, to launch "Your Voice, Their World" – a project to create India’s largest Accessible Digital Library for the visually impaired students. The project aspires to extend support to strengthen ‘accessible content’, infrastructure and the right technology so that more and more blind students are able to fulfill their dreams of basic and advanced education.
Commenting on this initiative Mr. Takuichi Shimizu, President, Omron Management Centre of India, said, " Less than 1 % of the printed books are available to the blind students in accessible formats in India which has the largest population of blind in the world. Being a technology leader, Omron understands how powerful role technology can play in bridging this digital divide. With the seasoned expertise and widespread network of National Association for the Blind, Delhi, the project aspires to be India’s largest Accessible Digital Library in terms of accessible content and number of beneficiaries. The first phase of the project shall produce 2000 hours of recording by December, 2014.” The books shall be produced in the world renowned DAISY (Digital Access Information System) format.
Omron kicked-off the project at NAB, Delhi premises today in an event in the presence of Farhan Akhtar – noted versatile Bollywood thespian and Omron’s brand ambassador in India. All the talking books have prelude in Farhan’s voice.
Sounding optimistic about the project and the association, Mr. Prashant Ranjan Verma, Joint Secretary-NAB , Delhi, said: “NAB Delhi is a part of the largest network of voluntary organizations serving the blind persons in India. It was the first organization to start production of Digital Talking Books in India & South Asia in 2003. We have been making few DAISY books with our limited infrastructure. Now, with support from Omron, we shall be able to take this pioneering initiative to the next level by producing more books and to fulfill education needs of a large number of visually impaired students.”
Being the first organization to establish the concept of Integrated Education for the blind in the country, NAB, Delhi places a lot of emphasis on Accessible Digital Books owing to their role in helping the blind students learn well in a normal school and gain a place in the mainstream going forward (Integrated education is based on the belief that blind students should study in a normal school and not in a school specially made for blind students only)
Highlights of the project :
-- Accessible Digital Books :
- The project shall produce both text and leisure reading Digital Books (Talking and e-Books) for class 9th to college students.
- Along with 2000 hrs (app. 200 titles) of talking Books, it shall also undertake conversion of 5000 pages of standard print into e-Book format.
-- DAISY: The DAISY books for print-disabled people are unique owing to the presence of innumerable useful features such as direct navigation to chapters, bookmark options, image descriptions, speech –to- text and vice versa, conversion to Braille and large prints, to name just a few. The DAISY format is compatible with e-book readers, computers and even mobile phones.
-- Provision of e-book readers: There is also a provision of making e-book readers available to NAB students at a subsidized cost in the project.
-- Support to science , math and vocational education: The number of students pursuing science and math education and professional courses is few and far between majorly owing to the lack of accessible content. Hence while focusing on the regular curriculum (encompassing CBSE, ICSE and other state boards of education), it shall undertake special initiatives to create books on science subjects and competitive exams- one more step towards opening new avenues for visually impaired students.
- The project shall reach out to not only the students of NAB, Delhi – 250 in number- but also to around 2000 Individual members of NAB Delhi library and around 10,000 blind persons through institutional members all over India (school and college students, job seekers, employed).
- The accessible books produced under this project will continue to remain in the collection of NAB Library and many of its associated libraries all over the country. These books will continue to benefit many print impaired persons in the years to come.
-- Online campaign: While the project focuses on Digital Books, Omron has also planned to complement it with an online campaign (on its social networking platforms, corporate website and other portals) where the objective shall be to invite recordings of poems from people so as to create a repertoire of meaningful poems which shall be donated to NAB, Delhi.
E-book readers uploaded with three Talking books - Mahindra's Master in Current Affairs - Nov 2013 issue for all competitions (Hindi), Personality & You (by O.P. Khanna) for Personality Development/General Reading (English) and Bhav by U.R. Annantmurti - Gyanpith Award Winner (3 stories in Hindi) were distributed to students by Farhan Akhtar at the event.
Feeling elated to be a part of the event, Farhan, said : "Being associated with Omron, I would like to share that apart from working for the benefit of the society through their products and services, Omron is also making significant efforts towards helping people with disabilities and challenging spirit to achieve independence worldwide. Your Voice, Their World is an extension of the same philosophy in India. The project aims to contribute towards a very pertinent cause. This is indeed commendable and inspiring." Farhan also gave a short description of the online campaign of creating the audio repertoire of poems. “ I am doing my bit by contributing preludes for the talking books and by being the first contributor of poems recorded in my voice” he added.
-- Printed information converted into Braille / audio/ large print/e-text for the use of print-disabled persons (visually impaired, dyslexic, mobility impaired etc. who cannot use the standard printed format)
Digital Talking Books
-- Digital Talking books are basically the audio version of a book processed with DAISY format (software)
-- The books content are recorded by voice—over artists in a specialized studio.
-- Text version of the books.
-- A scanner is used to scan the printed book and then the same is stored in a text format which is then read out with the help of a screen reading software on a computer by a student.
-- The E-books are also prepared as per DAISY guidelines. Hence, they also provide advantages of DAISY format and can be easily converted to Braille or large print on demand.
E book readers
-- The books are listened to with the help of an e-book reader which is a handy gadget which comes with various functions such as skipping to various chapters/pages/sentences, voice recording, talking watch, etc.
-- These readers support formats like DAISY, DOC, HTML, TXT, MP3 etc.
-- The readers help the students to access the books without being dependent on the availability of a PC or a sighted volunteer.
Facts and numbers on visually impaired people in the world and India:
-- As per WHO, 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide
-- India has the largest blind population in the world- around 15 million in number
-- Only 1 % of the printed books is available to the blind students in accessible format.
-- The figure stands at 5 % in developed countries.
-- Lack of accessible content – one of the key reasons for blind students not pursuing science, math streams and vocational courses in their education
Headquartered in Kyoto, Japan, OMRON Corporation is a global leader in the field of automation. Established in 1933, and headed by President Yoshihito Yamada, Omron has more than 36,000 employees in over 35 countries working to provide products and services to customers in a variety of fields including industrial automation, electronic components, social systems, healthcare, and the environment. The company has regional head offices in Singapore (Asia Pacific), Shanghai (Greater China), Amsterdam (Europe, Africa, and the Middle East), Chicago ( North America), Gurgaon (India), and Sao Paulo (Latin America).
About NAB, Delhi:
NAB, Delhi is a part of the largest network of voluntary organizations serving the blind persons in India. National Association for the Blind has 65 branches all over the country including 19 state level branches. Conferred with the national award of being the best Institution working for the blind in the country in 2007, it stands out among the organizations working for the blind due to its pioneering work in the country, such as:
- Introduction of computer training for the blind
- The first organization to establish the concept of Integrated Education for the blind
- The first to bring the digital talking book (DAISY) revolution to South Asia
- Development of Indian language screen reading software
- Contribution to setting up of almost all ICT labs for the visually impaired under the ERNET (Education & Research Network), Government of India project.
To view the photograph, please click on the link given below:
President, Mr. Takuichi Shimizu San, actor Farhan Akhtar presenting e-book reader to the visually challeged kid
Source: Business Wire India