2004 Conference Proceedings

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AUDIBLE PAPER FOR BLIND, VISUALLY IMPAIRED, AND ILLITERATE PEOPLE

Presenter(s)
Seongil Lee
Sungkyunkwan University
300 Chunchun-Dong, Jangan-Gu
Suwon, Gyonggi-Do, South Korea
Email: silee@yurim.skku.ac.kr

Min-Cheol Park AD Information & Communication Co. Ltd.
507 Hurbahurba B/D 648 Yeoksam-dong, Kangnam-gu
Seoul, South Korea
Email: ceo@adinc.co.kr

Dong-In Yi
AD Trust Co., Ltd.
32 Fl. The Military Mutual Aid Association Bldg., 467-12 Dogok-Dong, Gangnam-Gu
Seoul, South Korea
Email: yi@adtrust.co.kr

Introduction
There are methods to help visually disabled people access to text-based printed information, for example, Braille. However, Braille is not easy for even congenitally visually disabled people to learn how to read, and it is expensive to make Braille printed materials. To read Braille printed materials can raise a sense of social alienation for the visually impaired people because Braille is designed specifically for them.

Audible paper has been devised to share printed information with blind people without using the cumbersome Braille. A type of audible paper was developed with the use of AD(Analog-to-Digital) code and is used in combination with an epochal device named Sound Paper Player (SP player) that decodes and recites the AD code.

AD code as a 2D Code
There are quite a number of 2D codes but none of them are like AD code in terms of its compression ratios, functionalities, and wide applicability. The compression ratio is nearly 10 times better than the other existing codes when compared in a same size. This is particularly useful since A4 size paper can hold as many as 270,000 bytes of data. AD code is superior to Zip by at least 30% in compression rate. Moreover, AD code, in a matrix form, can carry any type of computer file such as text, audio, graphics, etc. These files can be retrieved by SP player, whereas the other codes can hold only ASCII type code. The functionality proves how robust AD code is. From our empirical test, with only 30% of AD code, the whole information can be fully recovered with its unique error correction function, which is proven to be very reliable against physical damages.

Audible Paper with Sound Paper Player (SP player)
With the development of SP player, an audible paper could exist. The SP player is a digital device specially designed and developed to convert text data stored in an AD code into speech utilizing a Text-To-Speech function to recite the decoded data. In other words, the SP player is a ˇ°Text Recognizing and Reciting Device."

This function is necessary especially for blind, visually impaired and illiterate people. Text data stored in an AD code of a matrix type symbol, what we call a Voiceye symbol, can later be recited by our portable SP player. The symbol can be printed anywhere, but as of now it is intended to be printed at the bottom right margin of a paper to provide visually impaired people access to printed materials.

SP player is remarkably easy to use. You select a computer file to print before printing and the AD code encoder will generate special patterns in a form of small matrix size of 1.5cm by 1.5cm, a Voiceye symbol, representing the file. It can be printed together with the intended file at the standardized location. Any document holding a Voiceye symbol is readable by the SP player, converting the decoded text into a series of voice signals reading them aloud.

Application of SP Player
For whoever wants to publish books, magazines, or papers for visually disabled people, instead of rewriting them using Braille, AD code provides a good solution. With the AD codes and an SP Player, both visually impaired and non-impaired people can read with the same material. AD code can also be applied to wrappers or directly onto the surface of various products. All the information in an AD code about the goods can be decoded with a portable SP player and thus can be read aloud.

Since it can hold any type of data, even music books can be written for the blind. Digital music scores can be encoded into a Voiceye symbol and played by the SP player.

The Meaning of Using SP Player
Since any text can become audible through using an SP player, the visually impaired and even illiterate people can have the same access to printed information as anyone else. Providing equity in printed information is very important for the alienated people since too much of information in the world is accessible only by vision. Without going through the costly Braille conversion, visually impaired people can easily access normal books, magazines, newspapers, etc. just like anyone else with the SP player.

Conclusion
The SP player is only feasible with the technological combination of AD code encryption and decryption, Text-To-Speech, and optical recognition technologies. The SP player can be applied in all countries with a TTS Engine of each language. It can contribute toward human welfare for blind, visually impaired, and illiterate people to use common printed materials like books, newspapers, and magazines in the same way as non-disabled people and to enhance the information accessibility.

Furthermore, the AD code can also be used in various ways for the digital products and environments for ubiquitous computing. The code can be saved and carried by PCs, PDAs, and cellular phones in a file to be used as a personal identification symbols, just like a name card for the visually impaired people.


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