India’s first web portal for the disabled launched

March 12th, 2008 - 8:34 pm ICT by admin  


New Delhi, March 12 (IANS) Punarbhava.in, India’s first interactive web portal for the disabled,was launched here Wednesday, along with a screen reading software that will enable the visually challenged to use computers. An effort of the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI) and Media Lab Asia, a part of the communications and information technology ministry, the web portal and the software are aimed at enabling the disabled to get more connected to the rest of the world.

Employment opportunities, contact numbers of hospitals and health care centres, online courses, catalogued knowledge repository of audio-video and Braille files in Indian languages and books related to disability are some of the resources featured on the portal.

Punarbhava.in will also have a National Disability Register that will give statistical information about the disabled population in India.

The screen reading software, called Screen Access For All (SAFA), will help the visually impaired use the computer with ease.

“The software will work in such a way that a voice will read out the text on the computer screen in any Indian language that the user is comfortable in. One can also take dictation and write using this software,” said Dipender Mauja, a civil society member who works on various issues of physical disability.

Gauri, a visually challenged girl, gave a demonstration by taking down dictation in Hindi from the software’s voice and typing with ease.

“In order to actually benefit the masses, it is important that the software is available in all Indian languages. That’s why SAFA can be accessed through 12 Indian languages, besides English,” said Meira Kumar, minister of social justice and empowerment, who was present at the launch.

“Tamil, Bengali, Sanskrit, Hindi…one can use the software in whichever language he or she wants,” she said.

The software can be installed at a price between Rs.500 and Rs.2,000.

“This software will enable visually handicapped students, who used to otherwise answer their exams with the help of a reader and writer, write their own paper,” Mauja said.

Kumar said her ministry was now working towards offering financial aid for NGOs working on issues of disability to get free access to Navshikhar, a channel for the disabled that was launched in October 2007.

A report on the disabled population in India, their employment and education ratio was also launched on the occasion.

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