2012 WISE Awards winning project RoboBraille converts textual educational materials into formats such as Braille, mp3 files, structured audio books, e-books and visual Braille for the blind and partially sighted, and other students with special needs. Read the interview with RoboBraille project’s representative Dr. Lars Ballieu Christensen
WISE: How can teachers use RoboBraille?
Dr. Christensen: RoboBraille converts educational material into alternative formats such as digital Braille, mp3, structured audio books and e-books for students who are blind, partially sighted, have reading difficulties, are dyslexic or have similar special needs. The service is free to use. Teachers may use RoboBraille to ensure that students with special needs have access to educational material they provide in class.
WISE: What has been the impact and reach of RoboBraille?
Dr. Christensen: RoboBraille is available globally as it is an email service. The web platform supports the main European languages as well as Arabic, American English and Latin American Spanish. It helps many students with special needs to be included in mainstream education and offers access to educational resources that are too expensive to produce otherwise.
WISE: Are there plans to develop RoboBraille in other languages?
Dr. Christensen: Yes, the RoboBraille team is constantly looking to provide support for new languages. The team has recently added support for Dutch and will add support for Rumanian, Hungarian, Bulgarian and Russian in the near future. Other languages will follow as the team behind RoboBraille manages to secure funding.
WISE: How can ICTs improve the quality of special needs education?
Dr. Christensen: ICT can improve the quality of special needs education by compensating for physical and sensory disabilities. It provides educational tools and material in suitable alternative formats for students with disabilities, and facilitates their inclusion in mainstream education.
WISE: What are the challenges that need to be addressed to improve special needs education?
Dr. Christensen: There are many aspects and obstacles to overcome that could contribute to improving special needs education: training of teachers on the complex requirements for students with special needs, ICT skills development amongst teachers, creation of digital versions of educational material by publishers, affordable assistive technologies, allocation of sufficient funds by policy makers and administrators are some of the many challenges that remain to be addressed.