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Report on eSpeak Tamil Computing with NVDA Training Workshop

Posted by Nirmita Narasimhan at May 30, 2015 09:00 PM |
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The training programme was held from May 25 to 29, 2015 at Differently Abled Children Section, District Central Library, Coimbatore. Twenty-one delegates attended.


The eSpeak Tamil Computing with NVDA Training workshop planned for 5 days (25th May 2015 to 29th May 2015) extensively for visually challenged school, college students and teachers was inaugurated on 25th May 2015 morning by Mr. J. Karthikeyan. District Library Officer, Coimbatore. Mr. S. Shankar Subbiah, Assistive Technology Consultant and representative of National Association for Blind, New Delhi and The Centre for Internet & Society, Bangalore, the sponsors of the workshop gave the Welcome talk. He also explained the purpose of the Workshop with the need for Tamil computing becoming necessity among the visually challenged in the present educational and employment context. It is most required with the Government distributing Cost Free Laptops preloaded with NVDA and the equipment and technology cost becoming Nil. The Librarian of the District Central Library gave the Vote of thanks, thanking the sponsors, the District Library Officer for the opportunity to train visually challenged members of the Library on Tamil with NVDA, and placed a request to include the staff of the Children's section as they would be able to train the school going Children further.

The well-equipped and accessible section of the District Central Library, Coimbatore served as the venue for training. In order to facilitate the participants with more concentrated and time efforts, High Tea and Lunch were also served for the Training days at the Centre. There were volunteers to assist the Trainees and they served enthusiastically. Many of the students used their Laptops and those who did not have a laptop were given access through the computers available in the section. The participant trainees numbering to 21 including the section staff were from Coimbatore district and nearby districts like Tiruppur, and Erode of Tamilnadu state.

The workshop began with Resource persons, Mr. S. Shankar Subbiah and Mr. R. Jaganathan, a low vision employee of the Library and a resource export continuing with the training activities on their expertise areas.

Activities conducted during the training period:

Day 1 - 25/05/2015


  • The whole group of Trainees were installed or updated with the latest versions of NVDA
  • A general overview on Operating System, Applications available in Windows, various File formats, Screen Readers and other Assistive Technology like OCR, Scan and Read applications available for Visually Challenged were dealt with
  • The session was conducted in an interactive manner to understand and assess the computer skills of the participant trainees.


  • The major and sub menus of NVDA were explained to the trainees after few of them were new to that.
  • The Trainees were given hands on training by making them to change the settings, configurations by themselves and checking out the changes.
  • The trainees were given comprehensive passages to be read in NVDA to get accustomed to the voice modulation and asked questions based on it

Day 2 - 26/05/2015


  • Tamil keyboard layout mapping of Microsoft Windows for default Unicode Tamil Font typing were introduced to the trainees by the Resource person.
  • The whole group of Trainees were trained to identify the keys for vowels and consonants of Tamil language, type and practice by themselves with the volunteers supporting them, when they had difficulties.


  • The Trainees were trained to identify the keys for combinations of vowels and combinations with two letter, three letter, four letter word units given for typing and practicing by themselves as they picked up faster.
  • A play and learn session was organized to spell out connected words for typing practice.
  • To make the training workshop more live, the participants also were requested and exhibited their Tamil native talents and knowledge.

Day 3 - 27/05/2015


  • The Trainees were trained by giving large sets of five and bigger letter units of words to type and practice as a revision.
  • It was followed up by smaller phrases and then sentences to be typed by the Trainees.
  • The trainees at this point of time, introduced short cuts for navigation within the text, spell check, cut, copy, paste commands


  • The trainees were made to listen to the Tamil text paragraphs with the help of NVDA screen-reader supported by eSpeak voice

The trainees were suggested to type out the phrases listened on a separate document

Day 4 - 28/05/2015


  • The trainees were introduced to toggle language between English and Tamil for bilingual content typing and practice.
  • The trainees were trained on file operations like simple formatting, folder creation, saving the file in Unicode format to required folder and retrieval of the particular file. Similarly, for navigating, opening the file saved and continuing editing.


  • As a reinforcement on the learning process, a Quiz Programme was conducted to the Trainees on Microsoft Tamil layout and key strokes required for different Tamil words, phrases.
  • Introduction to HTML, various tags and formatting that can be done, Forms and fields, Email Clients and Browsers were given to the Trainees. Usage of Tamil in Internet, and the browsers supporting the Unicode formatted content and the NVDA development efforts to support Internet browsing was discussed.
  • The trainees were given HTML contents like Newspapers formatted to navigate and read for practice
  • The students were given downloaded online application Forms (as Internet was restricted to few computers in the library) and explained form navigation. They were assessed for their short cut using

Day 5 - 29/05/2015


  • Introduction on DAISY books and knowledge sharing on the available resources to read a DAISY book was done.
  • Demonstration on using Android based tablets and mobile phones to access the Tamil DAISY books given to the Trainees using The Trainees were also given information to subscribe for Bookshare membership and Book search and retrieval.
  • The trainees were also given information on different groups operating on Internet like Access India, Valluvan Paarvai online, the benefits and encouraged their participation for enriching their knowledge and practicing their language content writing, and development skills.
  • The Guest also had an interactive session assessing the participants Tamil computing skills by questions and also introduced them to one another Tamil keyboard Layout 'Anthaga Kavi' developed by visually challenged community. He recommended them to try that after practicing the present learned Microsoft layout for more easier typing experience.

The Valedictory Function

The eSpeak Tamil Computing with NVDA Training workshop conducted for 5 days (25th May 2015 to 29th May 2015) had a brief Valedictory function presided by Mr. G. Venkateshan, State Bank of India Zonal Office, Coimbatore and an experienced visually challenged person on Tamil computing who delivered the valedictory address and stressed on Tamil computing skills necessity for higher education and employment opportunities. The District Library Officer, Mr. J. Karthikeyan also felicitated the gathering and distributed the Certificates to the participants. Vote of thanks to CIS, NAB and the organizers was given by Mr. Muthu Venkatasubramanian, Co-ordinator for the Differently Abled Children section and a visually challenged participant. The training felt much useful and requested to extend in batches for more persons ended up with the National Anthem and Lunch served for all.


  • Mr. Ashok, a student of Final year graduation felt how easy it was to learn Tamil typing and he is looking forward to eagerly participate in groups and though he had subscribed to Bookshare, he had not read Tamil books. But, now he is confident to download and read Tamil content.
  • Mr. S. Sabareesh, Student from Loyola College, Chennai felt that his vacation to his native town gave him a good learning experience on Tamil computing and various other concepts, shortcuts for efficiently using NVDA.
  • Mr. Jeeyawolhok, a Government School Teacher present felt that now it is necessity of visually challenged persons to work with Computers even in the field of Teaching profession and this Training gave him more confident as being a Tamil teacher.
  • Ms. Loganayaki, an English Literature student felt that she did not think Tamil typing was so easy before and now would read large volume of e-contents of Tamil novels available in the Library as well as practice her Tamil writing skills on Computer.
  • Mrs. Saraswathi, the mother of Mr. Shankar, 10th Grade student and participant trainee gave a feedback that she was worried on how she had to read the whole Tamil books for her son. Reading it as e-content through NVDA and eSpeak voice becoming familiar to her son made her job easy. And, he could also practice and revise his lessons like any other child by typing the contents in Tamil as others do by writing. She thanked the organizers for the workshop and wanted one such run for school children with visual impairments from 8th standard onwards conducted by school or at least in the Library regularly. This would help them in their higher standards and education for being more independent and not to depend on readers for their academic requirements.
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