Digital Audio Library

Samanvai aspires to provide equal opportunities in education irrespective of disability and to reduce the number of school and college dropouts who discontinue studies due to their in accessibility to educational material and other obstacles. In this program, we provide audio and electronic text study materials and tactile diagrams for students. Material is recorded onto cassettes, DVDs, and portable flash recorders by our volunteers using Samanvai’s recording studio. Simultaneously, we also plan to generate text versions of the required materials so that the students who wish to use computers can read the material using screen readers like JAWS. Samanvai provides free audio and text format for the use of the students at its office.

Though Samanvai associates have been carrying on this activity for a decade, it was on a smaller and less organized scale.We did not have a place and the resources to meet the demands of the growing number of students who required these recorded study materials. According to our research in the community, 90% of visually impaired students have no access to academic material to prepare for their exams. Hence, it is not surprising that many of them either fail their exams or drop out of schools and colleges.

Project Goals/Benefits

  • Reduce educational gap between main stream students and disabled students
  • Reduce the number of school and high school drop outs
  • Promote accessibility to study material in various formats and languages
  • Increase academic progress of students by encouraging independent learning
  • Help students apply their computer knowledge to study and prepare academic material

Procedure

We intend to use our sound proof room to record material to avoid external noises. Volunteers can come and record books using this setup. People have the option of recording multiple formats simultaneously. We are going to set up a computer with microphones and a standard recording player with a microphone. When the person reads once, it gets recorded in various formats simultaneously, which saves time. Additionally, we are planning to set up a special scanner called Abisee Zoom X which can scan up to 20 pages per minute and convert the material into Indian English mp3, PDF and other formats like txt, html, etc.

Students can use the screen reader to read all these text formats and use the computer to listen to mp3 files. Also students can use any standard mp3 player or copy the files into standard cassettes using the line-in cable from the computer to the portable recorder.

Implementation

We plan to implement this process in 3 phases:

1. Distribute material using audio cassettes, DVDs, mp3 players and other memory drives.

2. Allow students to scan their books into digital formats.

3. Provide academic material in Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) format.

Phase 1: Distribute material using standard audio cassettes and mp3 players.

This is the most preferred option at present, especially for school students since audio cassettes are very cheap and durable. We ourselves found that studying using an audio cassette is sometimes easier than listening on the computer. It is easy to rewind or fast forward according to one’s needs, as opposed to using an mp3 player or DVD.

With this facility, the student will be able to visit the library and request the required material. Students who live far away from the center will have the opportunity to access audio material through post. Since postal services are free for visually challenged people in India, this does not require funding. We will also have sets of material ready for students to pick up upon request. We will also go to schools and educate students about using the facility.

Phase 2: Allow students to scan their books.

As students are learning how to scan books through our computer training, we feel it would be helpful to let them try to scan their books. As we already have computers and scanners, this is easy to implement. The process of scanning books teaches students about independent learning. An instructor is always around to assist.

Phase 3: Provide material in DAISY format.

Although this is an expensive option, this works well due to the development of technology. Students can go to a particular section, paragraph, page, or chapter. While using manually recorded audio books, a student cannot navigate to a particular chapter. Students must listen while fast-forwarding or rewinding to locate the desired section. Students can read DAISY books using software called FS reader on a computer or they can use portable DAISY players like Victor Stream. Nowadays digital recorders come with a built-in DAISY player.

Most visually challenged students who come from rural areas do not have exposure to technology and cannot afford expensive audio players. Considering the economic condition of these students we plan to provide the option of borrowing audio equipment from the library so that they can study at home. We would also like to keep a stock of audio players available in the library so that students can come to the computer center to use the players and computers to study. The loaning option is only for students who cannot afford personal players.

Interested students can check the names of books or material available with us by visiting the material catalog page.