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Monday, September 23, 2002

Turning a blind eye towards Braille software
Frederick Noronha

HE created a technology to translate and print books in Braille over a decade ago but Vasant Bhat’s invention that can open a whole new world for the blind seems to have few takers. Bhat, 63, got an Indian patent for his invention a decade ago. In September 1991, using his knowledge of computing, typography and a background in printing, Bhat had put together an ‘improved process of composing and printing’ in Braille script.

The technology allowed conversion of computerised normal text into "disaphered"—raised above the page — Braille text. But Bhat is still looking for someone who would appreciate this utility. Bhat, who is currently the managing director of ITR Graphic Systems and ITR Interactive Edusoft — two private firms, says his technology is particularly useful in the case of Indian languages as "the order in which a word is read is not always the same as the order in which it is written".

He says his technology helps convert the Indian language text — say in Hindi or Marathi — into an easy-to-read Braille version. Next, this text is printing with special ink and thermographic printing. He says this process can mix any picture, illustration or diagrams that are otherwise not normally possible.

Another thing going in favour of his technology, Bhat says, is that raised thermography is superior to traditional Braille, made by puncturing the page because the latter tends to get worn out over time whereas his solution doesn’t.

Now Bhat would like someone to realise the potential of his work for the blind. "Unless there are some sponsors or the government takes text books (in Indian language Braille) from me, it will not work," Bhat said.