Sri. P K Kunhalikutty, Minister for Industries and IT, inaugurated a one-day seminar on ‘Possibilities of Information & Communication Technology (ICT) for the Differently Abled’ at the Kerala Federation of the Blind (KFB) headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram on 28 July. The seminar was jointly organized by KFB and Insight.
Speaking on the occasion, the minister said that the government will take necessary measures to implement the policy of 3% job reservations for the differently abled in public sector in the state. He assured that the government will support the activities of Insight. Sri. Kunhalikkutty launched ‘Swaram’, a Malayalam Text To Speech software for the visually challenged, developed by Insight. Sri. K Muraleedharan MLA who delivered the presidential address said that a nation flourishes only when its marginalized citizens are brought to the mainstream of the society. He promised that the district administration will soon make provisions to construct a hostel for the visually challenged in the city.
The main feature of the event was a lecture on ‘Role of Assistive Technology in Integrating Individuals with Disabilities in Society’ by Dr. Samuel N Mathew, Director, National Institute of Speech and Hearing. He cited the examples of many persons who have exploited technology and customised it to lead an independent and productive life. This was followed by a presentation on Swaram, an assistive free software that will convert Malayalam digital text to speech. Sri. Rijoy V, developer of the software, detailed the benefits and working of Swaram, that is expected to benefit the visually challenged in the state to access Malayalam documents and web contents.
Sri. Jagan C of ThirdEye delivered a talk on ‘Mobile Technologies for the Visually Challenged’. Three visually challenged persons, Smt. Lissy Verghese, Sri. Krishnan S and Sri. Habeeb C communicated with the audience on ‘Using ICT to bridge the gaps: Success Stories’. They shared their tales of attempts and success in using technology to beat the odds. The day ended with a talk on ‘DAISY’, a digital talking book, by Smt. Sarala Ramkamal from DAISY Forum India.
More than 100 visually challenged persons from across Kerala took part in the seminar. Certficates were distributed to the students who successfully completed their training at Insight. Mary Pushpam, ward councillor, Kunnukuzhi, C K Aboobecker, president, KFB, Sasidharan Pillai, general secretary, KFB and Sajeevan C, secretary, KFB Thiruvananthapuram were also present.