Today, the RoboBraille service was launched at an official launch event at the ELTE Bárczi Gusztáv Faculty of Special Education in Budapest, Hungary. The launch marks the completion of a three-year collaborative effort by the National Centre for Visually Impaired Children and Youth in Denmark and a wide range of Hungarian partners to localise RoboBraille into Hungarian. RoboBraille automates the conversion of different types of documents into alternate formats such as digital Braille books, audio books and e-books. The service is free for non-commercial use. The launch event attracted almost 100 participants from disability organisations, academia and government institutions and was covered by several regional and national radio and television channels.
Speaking on behalf of the Hungarian government at the launch event, Mr Pál Szekeres, the Ministerial Commissioner for Disability Issues at the Ministry of Human Capacities welcomed RoboBraille and said that the service is a giant technological step forward for Hungarians with special needs. As one of the first signatories to the UN Convention of the Right of People with Disabilities, Hungary is committed to provide equal opportunities and barrier-free access to education.
Dr. László Szőke, Secretary of the National Disability Council and a long-time supporter of the RoboBraille service, went on to emphasise how the RoboBraille service would improve possibilities for equal education by proving easy access to educational material in digital Braille, and as audio books and e-books. Developing educational practices that utilise inclusion technologies such as RoboBraille will further equal opportunities for those with special needs.
Ms Tanja Stevns, the project coordinator and a special education teacher by trade, said that although the launch marks the end of a development project, it also marks the beginning of an era where material in alternate formats will be much easier to obtain. She explained the importance of being part of the growing RoboBraille Community of professionals working with special education and alternate media and also invited academic institutions and other organisations in Hungary to have their own private version of RoboBraille on their websites.
The implementation of RoboBraille in Hungary is part of a three-year, three-country project that has also implemented the service in Romania and Bulgaria. The main objective of the project is to facilitate inclusion of the blind and partially sighted in mainstream education, to improve the quality of secondary education of the blind and partially sighted, and to support the development of improved educational practices for the dyslexic. The project is supported by a grant from the VELUX Foundations.
The primary Hungarian RoboBraille partners include the Research Institute for Psychology at the Hungarian Academy of Science, the Bárczi Gusztáv Faculty for Special Education at ELTE University, the Hungarian Federation of the Blind and Partially Sighted, The School for the Partially Sighted in Budapest, the School for the Blind in Budapest, the School for the Blind in Debrecen, the IT Foundation for the Blind, the View Foundation, the National Institute of Rehabilitation of the Blind in Budapest and the Department for Disability Affairs, Ministry of Human Capacities.
Select pictures from the event are available at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/wp6upv9txrvj8u2/AADNefxEihuamOfNYz3MZoMUa?dl=0