Just recently the Libraries Deanship at United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) decided to buy the IBSAR software from Sakhr Software. The IBSAR software is an Arabic/English Text-to-Speech software specially created for the blind and visually impaired and it comes with OCR scanning capability.
IBSAR (“Vision” in English) is an all in one reading and writing answer for the blind and visually impaired people. It helps the visually impaired users to read Arabic and English paper and electronic documents, check email, browse the Internet, write documents, and save and print in Braille with ease and convenience. Included with the software is a tutorial that teaches keyboarding/typing skills and shortcuts at different levels, an Arabic/English dictionary and translation tool. Furthermore, there are the Braille and MP3 converters included in the package.
Wikipedia states that OCR is “the mechanical or electronic conversion of scanned images of handwritten, typewritten or printed text into machine-encoded text. It is widely used as a form of data entry from some sort of original paper data source, whether documents, sales receipts, mail, or any number of printed records. It is a common method of digitizing printed texts so that they can be electronically searched, stored more compactly, displayed on-line, and used in machine processes such as machine translation, text-to-speech and text mining.“
Sakhr’s Automatic Reader has won awards because it that addresses the complexities of Arabic language and fonts, including cursive writing, diacritics, position-dependent character shapes, overlapping, and non-standard fonts. It is powered by Sakhr’s Arabic Natural Language Processing (NLP) and pattern recognition technology. This gives Automatic Reader an edge over its competitors and has achieved industry-leading accuracy and performance.
With IBSAR, the staff at the Main Campus and Zayed Libraries are better equipped to assist the blind and visually impaired University students and faculty, as well as the general community, in the use of IBSAR with OCR scanning. This will make it easier to do their research and meet the curriculum needs. They will be able to access the library and other online materials just like a normal user would. The IBSAR software dongle (on USB drive) may be checked out from the reference desk at both libraries.
Prof. Hassan Al Naboodah, Dean of the UAEU Libraries, stated that, “Through this service, the Libraries Deanship continues to support the Disability Support Services Center at UAEU in its aim to address the requirements of students with special needs, and to ensure they have access to educational opportunities equal to their fellow students.”