It could help children with special needs

A sure help for children with special needs, who are irked by the black-on-white constraints of the world of printed books, is the new audio-visual e-book that State Institute of Educational Technology (SIET) has come out with.

The SIET’s new venture is a scaled up version of the ‘dynamic e-textbook’ developed by the instituted some months ago. The institute has already started receiving enquiries about the e-book from various countries, including some African countries.

The e-book also boasts a ‘voice search response’ system, and Braille software complete with a keyboard, in addition to bringing onto a single platform text, audio, video, graphics, animation, and reference tools.

The SIET director Babu Sebastian told The Hindu here that the specialty of the e-book software was that it could run on a mobile platform, a tablet PC environment, and on a regular desktop/laptop. “I will say that our USP of this project, as was with our dynamic e-textbook project, is that we have been able to make it platform-neutral. The software is such that we can convert the soft copy of any textbook into a dynamic audio-visual e-book,” he explained.

As in the case of the ‘dynamic e-textbook’, the e-book would allow to student to listen to a lesson instead of reading it, Dr. Sebastian said . “A visually impaired child can use the voice search facility to ask the e-book to read out a lesson to him. All he has to do is to say clearly the name of the lesson or the page number. The child, if he does not understand a concept, can use the voice command to ask the textbook to explain the same to him or get the meaning of a word from the voice-driven dictionary,” he said. The e-book also had a provision to ‘freeze’ the audio component so that a child with difficulty in hearing can use it effectively.

Much like the dynamic e-textbook, each lesson in the new e-book would have embedded in it pictures, graphics, video clips and animated clips. The ‘book’ would also sport ‘virtual labs’ to help the student understand experiments of various kinds, Dr. Sebastian said.