Published: 03rd July 2020
This visually-impaired person's campaign pushed Google to include Kannada on their text-to-speech software
Siddhalingeshwar Ingalgi, who works as a second division assistant in the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department, started this campaign in April 2017 and it was finally opened to the public in
Inclusivity should be the mantra of Artificial Intelligence and Data Science, says Siddhalingeshwar Ingalgi who works as a Second Division Assistant in Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department office in Bailhongal. The visually impaired man started a campaign on www.change.org to include Kannada as a Language in the Google Text-to-Speech Android platform — to help visually-challenged people have content read to them in their moother tongue. Siddhalingeshwar says, "Being a visually-impaired person, I can read everything that is available in the books but it becomes difficult to read if it is on the touch-screen phone. Though I can understand English, most of the things that I prefer to read on my phone are in Kannada. Therefore, I started this campaign on April 2, 2017 and spread the word."
According to Siddhalingeshwar, languages like Hindi and Bengali were already available on the Google text-to-speech software. He thought that Kannada, which is one of the most widely spoken Dravidian languages, can be added by Google to its software. He says, "As per various news reports that I have read and the 2011 population census, there are around 2,50,000 visually-impaired people in Karnataka. Hence, I feel that whenever people develop software, it is necessary to add a feature that can help visually-impaired people like me."
Excited to speak about the petition, Siddhalingeshwar explains, "As soon as I spoke about the petition to my friends, over 3,317 people supported my initiative and signed it. While Google added Kannada language to their text-to-speech software in 2019, it was enabled for the general public from February 2020. Now, I can read news articles available in Kannada, documents, novels, messages and so on."