Saturday, November 08, 2008

Software for the visually impaired

THE National Council for the Blind Malaysia (NCBM) recently presented a new software known as ‘Save As DAISY XML’, which allows the creation of documents with contents that can be accessible by people who are visually impaired.

‘Save As DAISY XML’ is an add-on, designed specially for Microsoft Word 2007, Word 2003 and Word XP. It will allow users to save Open XML-based text files into Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) XML – the foundation of the globally accepted DAISY standard for reading and publishing navigable multimedia content.

NCBM president S. Kulasegaran said: "Through this software, the visually-impaired will have a better opportunity to access books, texts, literature and poetry."

Previously a variety of assisting technologies such as screen readers, refreshable Braille and text-to-speech synthesisers were used.

"But it was not possible to navigate complex page layouts. ‘Save As DAISY XML’ makes it possible to navigate quickly through a document by heading or page number as well as the use of indexes and references. And by burning the content into CD, the visually impaired can play it on the CD player, computer or notebook," he said, adding that he hopes a Bahasa Malaysia engine will be developed in the future.

Microsoft Malaysia National Technology Officer Dr Dzaharuddin Mansor said: "Because Microsoft Word is a commonly used tool, this add-on allows for content creators in different fields to produce accessible digital material by and for Malaysians, especially individuals with assisting needs."

For more information on the ‘Save As DAISY XML’ tool, visit the NCBM website at


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