Audio dictionaries for the blind

The State Institute of Educational Technology (SIET) will soon introduce two audio dictionaries for visually challenged students in the State's schools.

The dictionaries will be brought out on audio CDs. While one will be an English-English dictionary, the other will be an English-English-Malayalam dictionary, SIET director Babu Sebastian told The Hindu here on Tuesday.

When a word is typed on the computer in which the dictionary has been installed, the meaning, spelling and pronunciation of that word will be heard. All these will be repeated twice. Then the dictionary will also `read' out a sentence or two in which that word has been used.

In the English-English-Malayalam dictionary, the meaning of the particular word in Malayalam will also be heard along with a sample sentence.

The SIET is now engaged in preparing a list of words, meanings, pronunciations and sample sentences. "First we will record a pilot version of the dictionaries and submit it to various language experts and teachers of English. Once we get their feedback, we will go in for full-scale production by rectifying the mistakes in the pilot version. It is our plan to put in at least 30,000 commonly used words in English in our dictionaries," Dr. Sebastian said.

To enable the average student to benefit from the dictionaries, the audio tracks will not feature any western voices. Moreover, the SIET intends to deliver these CDs free of cost to all schools for the blind and all visually challenged students in the State.

For self-learning

Even though these dictionaries are primarily aimed at visually challenged students, the SIET also plans to position them as a self-learning module for students in schools. "We will fashion the dictionaries in such a manner that students and perhaps even the teachers will be able to use it as a learning aid both at school and at home," said Dr. Sebastian.

Even an adult who wishes to enrich his vocabulary and hone his pronunciation and spelling skills can use these dictionaries. Depending on the success of the first two CDs, the SIET may also go in for an upgradation of the dictionaries, he added.

Recently, the SIET had brought out audio CDs (English and Malayalam) containing the lessons for Class X. These CDs are being distributed free of cost in all schools for the blind across the State.