The Technology We Use

A Computer Center for the blind (where two languages are used) is rather a complicated system in which different kinds of software and hardware contribute to make the user interact with the computer.
The Center is organized into three main sections. The school, the digital library (self-study room), and the printing room.
By means of a peer-to-peer network we share the computer center resources and an Internet account.

Our goal is to make the user able to perform tasks without worrying about the complexity of the system. This complexity is mainly generated by the fact that there is no Vietnamese version of Windows. In Vietnam, Windows uses the American code-page and a set of fonts to reconvert some keyboard keys and generate characters peculiar to the Vietnamese language.
Therefore we must use software that speaks Vietnamese and software that speaks English, but the two will conflict should they run at the same time.
The Vietnamese and the English vocal interfaces can be used in the same working session but only one at a time.

For the Vietnamese language we use two programs.

BRAILLE is a vocal DOS package developed by a team of students at the University of HCM City under the guidance of Prof. Dinh Dien.
It consists of a set of exercises to learn the keyboard and practice typing, a calculator, a calendar, an editor and an English-Vietnamese Dictionary.
The dictionary is the digital version of the 65,000-word dictionary created by Prof. Dinh Dien.

NDC is a vocal editor for the Windows environment created by SCITEC of HCM City. It implements the most common features of a Windows word processor and a POP3 e-mail facility.

For operating the computer and perform tasks in English we use JAWS.

The Braille Display
Three (out of seven) workstations are also equipped with a Braille Display.
A Braille Display is a technology that replaces the screen. It allows the blind to read the screen in another way. The computer screen is organized into lines and columns. Our Displays can "translate" (in Braille that can be touched-read on a bar) 40 characters at a time of the selected line. With navigation buttons (arrow keys) you can read the rest of the line or scroll up and down.
Another kind of Braille Display also implements keys by which you can write in Braille code. It is equipped with Function keys so that it may be used instead of the keyboard.

Embossing is the process of printing in Braille.
At the moment the Center uses three embossers.
An Index Everest-D, a Braille Blazer (Blazie Engineering) and one Braille Express 100.
Embossing in Vietnamese is quite a problem. The main reason is the absence of a standard Vietnamese ASCII code. So the Vietnamese software developers use their own set of characters. Basically if the set of characters in the software and the one in the printer don't match you can't get proper Braille printout results.

We get perfect Vietnamese text printouts on the Express 100 embosser (by Enabling Technologies) by using the NDC software mentioned above.

(updated 5 March 01)


Back to top | Home