Multimedia talking book appears godsend to visually impaired people

DAISY-standard digital talking book, a collection of digital files that provides an accessible representation of a printed book for individuals with visually-impaired,  has appeared blessings to the persons who has visual impediment .


Mohammad Shakil Khan, one of the thousands visually impaired people in Bangladesh, had to traverse jumpy situations due to absence of accessible study materials when he became totally blind at the age of eleven.


During his secondary education level, he did not get accessible study materials. So, he had to face problem to continue his study.


“I have been suffering from eye problem since my childhood. But the problem became critical at the age of eleven. After completing education up to class seven from my village at Satkania upazila, I admitted  to class eight in a specialised school (Government Muradpur School for the Blind) in Chittagong city. After completing class eight, I got admitted into ‘Rahmania High School,” said Sakil, now a second year student of the Chittagong University at Political Science department.


He expressed gratitude to his parents, sister and brother as they provided support that difficult time by recording all the books and class notes.


“The sufferings of my parents were also countless. A child with visual impairment needs extra privileges for continuing education, but the access to study materials required and their affordability is perplexing. Therefore, parents wishing their children to continue their studies face physical, mental and financial stresses,” he added.


Like Sakil, visually impaired students usually face major difficulties to get accessible study materials. In this case, DAISY-standard digital talking books under the auspices of a2i appeared blessing for visual impaired individuals.


The government’s of Bangladesh a2i programme is working to ease and improve the lives of citizens. As part of its target to achieve the ‘Digital Bangladesh’ agenda, a2i is innovating different new materials, including the digital talking books, to make easier people’s life.

The digital talking books are accessible materials which provide the text in an audio version for all including students with print and learning disabilities.


Digital talking books are for everyone who needs accessible information; readers can play the audio and simultaneously display and highlight the corresponding text. It eases the education for the visually impaired students in Bangladesh like Sakil.


For the digital talking book, Sakil said, his education and life have become much easier these days and now he can use either smartphone or computer to access his reading materials.


He thanked the government for ensuring digitization in all sectors and informed that the accessible and affordable reading materials brought a momentous shift in his learning crave.


Through receiving Grade Point Average (GPA) 5.00 in his Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examination in 2019, Sakil has set an example for other visually impaired students who are struggling for their study fighting against their disabilities.


a2i sources said that a team of persons with disabilities developed DAISY standard digital multimedia books, e-books and digital Braille books for the primary and secondary levels using open source technology.

The project received technical support from DAISY Consortium, Accessible Books Consortium and World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), while getting implementation support from Young Power in Social (YPSA) and overall support from the Service Innovation Fund of the a2i.


The project has converted all primary and secondary education textbooks (grades I to X) into cost effective DAISY digital multimedia format; made it easier to produce braille, text, audio book or e-book as suitable.


The project has won multiple awards for developing these multimedia talking books that included the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Prize, 2017; the Zero Projects Award on Inclusive Education (2016); the Accessible Books Consortium Award for Accessible Publishing Initiative at the International Excellence Award 2015 held in London Book Fair; etc.


Ensuring inclusion of all including people with disabilities, especially in education, will aid human-centric and sustainable development of Bangladesh.

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