Professor Gregg Vanderheiden has a record of achievements in enabling the differently abled to use technology such as personal computers and automated teller machines. Through Raising the Floor, an international organization that he established, Professor Vanderheiden is working on an ambitious initiative to create a platform that will make it possible for various interfaces to “morph” into forms accessible to users with disabilities (which includes many people who are not so identified ordinarily). For the interfaces to be fully responsive to the unique needs of each of the users, the platform would have to know about their preferences and behaviors. Raising the Floor is taking the issues of putting in place strong safeguards for these data and to ensure that harms are avoided. For this purpose, they convened expert groups in Geneva and Washington DC.
Text-voice readers that enable visually challenged persons to access books, websites and other content have been around in English and many other languages for years. In Myanmar too, many have attempted over the years to develop the Myanmar Language version of some of the most popular conversion engines. This week, we brought one of the world’s leaders in such software, Dr Dipendra Manocha, and his colleague Mr Piyush Chanana to Yangon to diagnose the problem and map the way forward. Dipendra and Piyush met with Myanmar National Association for the Blind (Mr. Benedict La Hkun and Mr.