Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Gadget Helps the Vision-Impaired to Read Graphs

People who are vision-impaired can now read graphs using an affordable digital reading system developed at Curtin University. Senior Lecturer Dr Iain Murray and PhD student Azadeh Nazemi developed the device to help the vision-impaired read graphics, graphs, bills, bank statements and more.

It uses pattern recognition technology and other methods on any document to identify images, graphs, maths or text. It segments these into related blocks and arranges these in the correct reading order. Blocks are then identified as images, graphs, maths or text, and recognised via optical character recognition or a utility for maths. It is then converted to audio format with navigation mark-up.

Murray said there have been many methods to convert graphical material but all are very labour-intensive and generally not easily transferable to other users.

The player has built-in user instructions and a speech engine that converts more than 120 different languages. It is expected to cost as low as $100 per device to produce, making it affordable to many people around the world.

Murray is looking for philanthropic finance to set up production.