Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Seminar in Chennai

The main reason for my visit to South India was the National Seminar on Print Access For All, which was organized by the dynamic Mr. Krishnaswamy.

N Krishnaswamy with a microphoneHe has taken on delivering print access as his personal project after his retirement from a senior police force role. He also has learned how to build electronics and program in assembly language, as well as being the sort of person who manages to convince anybody who's anybody to join his effort to bring equity to access to print. He's really helped us move forward with our India projects, thanks to our India project manager, Viji Dilip, who joined me there and who has made all of these great Chennai connections for us.

There was a great article on the seminar in the major paper based in Chennai,The Hindu, entitled: Publishers urged to reach out to print-disabled population.

Jim Fruchterman, giving a speech as a podium, grabbing his cheeks in surprise I enjoyed giving my 20 minute talk on Bookshare.org and building a global library. The turnout for the seminar was great: I was able to meet key people from C-DAC, the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, including the Director General, Ramakrishnan. C-DAC does a great deal of Indian language technology among all of its wide-spread projects, and I was delighted to know of their strong interest in helping people with disabilities.

IIT-Madras, our host institution, also had cool technology to show off, which is already being used in big media applications: a TV network came to discuss how it's worked for them in their language work.

Dipendra Manocha came from New Delhi: I visited Dipendra there a couple of years ago and he's one of our top partners in bringing Bookshare.org to India. I was able to meet publishers, and the leadership of the Worth Trust (more on them in another post), who are doing book entry for Bookshare.org.

blind student speaking at seminar with microphone There were also numerous people with disabilities at the Seminar, including the blind student who has been working with Bookshare.org in his spare time! More on him later as well.

I left the seminar with a lot of confidence that the critical mass of leaders pulled together by Mr. Krishnaswamy were going to do great things for blind and disabled people in India!

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