[AI] Launch of simply Reading app

Dipendra Manocha dipendra.lists at gmail.com
Fri May 4 04:14:03 EDT 2018

Dear Friends

Simply Reading app launched on May 2. See below for more details:


In preparation to impact million persons with print disabilities in India

Dependence on others for reading and writing is one of the biggest hurdles in way of education, employment and leading an independent life, especially in case of people living with visual disabilities and low vision.  To empower the persons with visual disabilities, , the DAISY Consortium (a network of not for profit organisations from 55 countries) has developed the "Simply Reading” app as part of Standard Chartered Bank’s global Seeing is Believing initiative to tackle avoidable (preventable or treatable) blindness. The App is based on the cost-effective and flexible android platform which aims to unlock digital reading for people who struggle with existing, more complex touch screen solutions.  It is the only Android application in India for reading books which connects to online accessible libraries, and allows books to be read on connected Braille display and in all major Indian languages. 
The app was launched during the Simply Reading Without Seeing Seminar held on 2 May at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi by Shri Jagmohan, former governor of Jammu and Kashmir and former LG of Delhi.  On the occasion of the launch, Mr. Jagmohan released an accessible copy of his book "My frozen Turbulence in Kashmir" on Sugamya Pustakalaya and readable on the Simply Reading app. Sugamya Pustakalaya is the common online library of accessible books for people with print disabilities which is powered by TCS Access Infinity. Sugamya Pustakalaya is an integral part of Accessible India Campaign of government of India. Software platform for this has been contributed by TCS and accessible content and outreach is contributed by government and non-government not for profit organizations and publishers.

Mr Richard Orme, CEO of the DAISY Consortium said, “The Simply Reading app is simple to use by persons with blindness or low vision on a touch screen device and books can be directly downloaded and read in this app from many online libraries such as Sugamya Pustakalaya and Bookshare.” 

Ms Karuna Bhatia, Head of Sustainability for India, Standard Chartered Bank said, “This year is special as it marks the 15 year anniversary of Seeing is Believing, our global community investment programme to tackle visual impairment and avoidable blindness. In India, from 2003 to 2017, we have provided over 13 million eye care interventions through our network of 125 vision centres across 22 states catering to people in the urban, rural and remote parts of the country. We are excited to be part of this project and congratulate the Daisy Consortium for their hard work in creating a long-term and sustainable value for the local community through the development of Simply Reading app which aims to unlock the digital reading potential of the visually impaired.  The launch of this app is a true demonstration of how we are getting closer to being digital with a human touch and empowering our communities.”

Another key highlight of the seminar was presentation and dissemination of the accessible digital and tactile format version of training materials on often neglected topic of Menstrual Hygiene which were jointly developed by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council - a UN agency,  Saksham and the Assistech Lab of IIT Delhi. Ms Kamini Prakash, Technical Officer of Equality and Non-Discrimination at WSSCC  said,  "This publication helps to break the silence around menstruation and replace shame and silence with information, pride and confidence so that women and girls with visual impairment adopt safe and hygienic practices during their period and walk tall every day of their lives.”

Saksham along with its partner organizations has been involved in several projects to provide a holistic affordable reading and writing solution for in Indian languages. Outcomes of these projects such as the Indo-NVDA screen reading software, DAISY players in all Indian languages, affordable Braille displays, and the dictation software were also demonstrated.

Saksham also released about 300 accessible format books for the students of central universities in under Amway India’s CSR programme. Mr Sunil Sachdev, President of Federation of Publishers's and Book Sellers's in India committed his whole-hearted support and cooperation to make these books available in accessible format for persons with print disabilities on Sugamya Pustakalaya.  Prof. Balakrishnan who leads the centre of excellence on tactile graphics at IIT Delhi introduced accessible materials for teaching subjects such as Science and Mathematics to people with blindness. Mr Dipendra Manocha, President of the DAISY Forum of India and founder of Saksham said that, "With development of affordable reading devices in Indian languages and braille presses connected to common online library having a collection of about 3.5 lakh accessible format books paves the way to scale up our operations and reach out to 5.3 million people with blindness or low vision of our country.”


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