‘A free service allowing people to convert documents automatically to and from Braille and synthetic speech, accessed by email, is receiving some 15,000 to 20,000 new requests per month.
The ‘RoboBraille’ www.robobraille.org Service, funded with 560,000 pounds from the European Commission, is run by an international consortium led by the Danish national body for young people and children with impaired vision, ‘Organisation Synscenter Refsnaes’. Users, who do not need to register, send in documents as email attachments in Word, rich text, html or plain text formats. A specialist piece of software translates the documents into contracted Braille or mp3 files in up to five languages. Documents are returned electronically and must then be rendered on a Braille embosser or displayed on a Braille display, where a Braille format is requested.
"We do not register users but expect to have a core user group of more than 1,000 people at present," says RoboBraille co-ordinator Lars Ballieu Christensen.
Languages currently handled are: Danish; English; Greek; Italian; and Portuguese. The team also plans to add French, Lithuanian and Norwegian.
"RoboBraille was the logical next step after having developed Braille translation software for decades that users found very difficult to use," said Christensen. "With RoboBraille we are capable of automating processes that are otherwise rather complicated and at the same time maintain a system that is always up-to-date with the latest fixes."
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