TS Shreedhar speaks as ( from left) Dr MK Sridhar, Exec Director of the Karnataka Knowledge Commission, Chiranjeevi Singh, Mukhyamantri Chandru and Dr SSadagopan, Director IIIT-B listen in Bangalore, July 18 ( IndiaTechOnline photo)
Kannada knowledge portal, Kanaja, now speech-enabled, thanks to work of visually -challenged Shreedhar

From Vishnu Anand in Bangalore

T.S. Shreedhar from Shimoga  ion Karnataka, is contributing -- in more ways than one -- to the genesis of Kannada language text-to-speech software, to enable fellow visually-challenged kannadigas to use the Internet effectively in their native language. It all began for Shreedhar when he was pursuing his computer diploma. He explained, "When I was in the first year, I came to know about 'screen readers' that were available for English and other languages that use the Roman alphabet. By the time I came to the second year, 'e-speak' a popular text-to-speech application came out with a Hindi variant -- and soon a Tamil variant. This urged me to contact the developer of this software to procure the relevant code and map the unicode characters to it. Once I had the 'help files' I looked around for a Kannada dictionary and began my job of creating an e-speak for Kannada."
He continued. "I beta tested it with a few of my visually-challenged friends and when I was convinced that they were happy with my work, I developed a vision to make it available to all visually-challenged individuals across the state."
The Karnataka Knowledge Commission decided to host Shreedhar's application on their Kanaja website (http://kanaja.in/  ) -- an encyclopeadic knowledge portal in Kannada on the lines of Wikipedia, that was launched in December last year by the Chief Minister of Karnataka. "The software is compatible in both Windows and Linux, and comes included with Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML)", he explained.
Shreedhar was speaking at a function in Bangalore, July 18, on the sidelines of a review meeting at the International Institute of Information Technology ,of the Kanaja project, where he was honoured for his contributions to make the portal accessible to visually challenged.
Chiranjeevi Singh, Former Additional Chief Secretary, Karnataka and Chairman of the steering Committee for project the Kanaja said, "It is humbling to see a youngster like Shreedhar opting to dedicate his knowledge of computer science to serve a section of the society that can do wonders with this tool." Encouraging Shreedhar to keep up his good work, a cash award of Rs. 25,000 was presented to him -- which he immediately announced, would be earmarked for taking his software to a mobile platform.
Mukhyamantri Chandru, President, Kannada Development Authority urged Kannadigas to take pride in their native language and read about literature and sciences in their own language, with tools like e-speak.
The Kanaja project is an initiative of the Karnataka Knowledge Commission http://jnanaayoga.in/  and is developed and maintained by the International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore. http://www.iiitb.ac.in/  
Related articles:
Read Kannada books free on Kanaja ( Deccan Herald) http://www.deccanherald.com/content/144029/read-kannada-books-free-kanaja.html  
New Kannada 'Wiki' launched ( OneIndia http://news.oneindia.in/2009/12/06/kannada-wikipedia-launched.html     
Text-to-speech goes Kannada http://www.bangaloremirror.com/index.aspx?page=article&sectid=10&contentid=2011071420110714230203822f0a5621c
July 19 2011