‘Swaram' can be used for listening to any written works in Malayalam.

The visually challenged can now tap into the immense resources of written works in the regional language through ‘Swaram' - a Malayalam Text-to-Speech System (TTS) assistive free software application. The project was launched by Minister of Industries and IT P.K. Kunhalikutty at a seminar for the differently abled held here on Thursday.

Mr. Kunhalikutty said the government would extend all support for such open software development projects.

Designed by Insight, a joint project of the Kerala State IT Mission and the Society for Promotion of Alternative Computing and Employment (SPACE), Swaram is an integrated software which uses Ubuntu, a Linux-based operating system. Swaram, unlike its counterpart Orca, can be used for listening to any written works in Malayalam. The software is also helpful in sending e-mails and short programming.

A demonstration of the software was done by Sunny, a beneficiary of the software who had undergone a five-day training on the software with the help from Insight officials.

According to V. Rijoy, developer of the software, any type of file that supports the Unicode format can run on this program. The scope of the program includes integration of portable document format (pdf) converter for documents in regional language.

The seminar, organised by the Kerala Federation of the Blind in association with Insight, focussed on the role of assistive technology in integrating individuals with disabilities in society.

Speaking to The Hindu, project coordinator of Insight, James P. Mathew said the institute was developing various other assistive technologies to empower the differently abled using Information and Communication Technology.

Certificates were distributed to the differently abled persons who have successfully completed a basic training course in computers conducted by Insight in association with Indira Gandhi National Open University.