Published: 28th December 2018
Multiple fonts used in Tamil pdf books irks visually-challenged students
Only when they came to know that the PDFs are encrypted with more than two Tamil fonts that even the screen readers cannot easily decode
Unless the shortcomings in the technology are rectified, the convenience in using it would still be a daydream for the visually-challenged people. The visually-challenged school students are not exceptional in this case as they too face some issues in their academia.
According to the students, the computer screen readers stop reading Tamil pdf (downloaded from Tamil Nadu Textbook Corporation website) midway due to some issue. Both the students as well as the teachers are clueless about why the book cannot be read thoroughly by the screen readers. While many tried downloading the book from first, the same issue frequented.
Only when they came to know that the PDFs are encrypted with more than two Tamil fonts that even the screen readers cannot easily decode. This small issue is proving difficult for the visually-challenged students despite having the free copy of the Tamil PDF books. As an alternative, the students are now relying on audio books and Braille methods which they have been using it earlier.
A government school teacher seeking anonymity said, "The screen readers stop reading the Tamil PDFs halfway. As a result, we have got back to the earlier methods of teaching the visually-challenged by using audio books and Braille methods."
The condition is not limited to the students in Tirupur, but to all the visually-challenged school students across the state. The teacher further said the Diksha, a mobile application released by the central government shows the same error like the screen readers in computers. A resource person in the field said there are nearly three fonts been encrypted in Tamil pdf books that sometimes interrupt the reading process. "The Tamil PDF books are not encrypted in the standard Unicode font. The issue is only with the Tamil pdf and not in English textbook pdf. Officials of the Textbook Corporation should come up with two pdfs, one for visually-challenged students and another for the peers."
S Kumaresan, the South Indian Coordinator of Bookshare.org said he had taken this issue with the officials in Tamil Nadu Textbook Corporation and the latter assured to look for solutions. He added, "The technicians should have used either Latha or Arial Unicode MS fonts, but had combined multiple fonts in the pdf. At least for the next academic year, the pdf must be uploaded properly by providing options for the visually-challenged students to easily navigate through the pages and chapters."
When contacted, Minister B Valarmathi, chairperson of the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation told us to reach Director of School Education VC Rameswaramurugan. The matter can be communicated with the director of school education, said minister Valarmathi adding that her department is only in charge of printing books and distribution. Efforts to reach Director Rameswaramurugan went in vain.