|A device called BrailleMe can enable blind people to read and edit books or documents / Photo by Getty Images|
Recently, two Mumbai innovators, Surabhi Srivastava and Shyam Shah, who have been working at the Indian Institute of Technology campus in Powai, revealed their new device that can enable blind people to read books and edit documents.
This device, called BrailleMe, converts conventional text to Braille and Braille to text, giving better flexibility and reading capability to those that are blind and need to rely on braille. Srivastava explained, “If a blind person wants to read a book, like perhaps Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and it is not available in Braille, but if it is available in soft copy, one can take that on to the SD card and the BrailleMe’s software auto converts it into Braille using the Braille code." This is a welcome development for the visually impaired, as the device provides another solution so that they are be able to read books that were previously out of reach. This system is also supposed to encourage a future without writers for blind people, as even if there are students that can write in braille, not many seeing teachers can understand Braille. This is why Srivastava and Shah included a feature in their software to convert braille into standard text, in order for other people to be able to interpret and translate Braille text. This could open a new avenue of work and information for the blind, as this could mean that the visually impaired would have the potential to write books and articles without outside help, and have their work reach a wider audience.
Currently, the device sits at Rs 25,000, weighs around 600 grams, and can fit in a tiny bag. The two innovators are co-founders of the company Innovision, which focuses on assistive technology. The duo said, "Here, with BrailleMe it is ‘Literacy amongst the Visually Impaired (VI)’ which is being catalysed."