Implementing Organization: YPSA (Young Power in Social Action)
Name of the project: Accessible Dictionary
Project Status: Completed.
Year the project started: 01.02.2017
Year the project ended: 28.02.2018
Beneficiaries: Students with visual disability, print disability, and learning disability and all groups of students and all classes of people.
Financial Partner: Access to Information (a2i) Programme, Prime Minister Office, Bangladesh
According to the World Health Organization finding, 15% of people are persons with disability, and approximately four million people are visually impaired in Bangladesh (WHO, 2013). Visually impaired students are now studying at the school level & there is a severe lack of accessible study materials. Furthermore, approximately 48% (BBS, 2011) of people in Bangladesh are illiterate or low literate. This large amount of the population can also be considered print-disabled. Accessible information and reading materials have not been available to this group. Information rights have not been recognized/ adequately met. Further barriers have been created for the print-disabled and visually impaired.
In the context of the usability of traditional dictionaries, it was obvious that the conventional dictionaries had many limitations and these could not satisfy the learners anymore. Furthermore, persons with disabilities faced more problems using traditional dictionaries and for having physical limitations they had to depend on others to learn new words.
Considering the situation, with the support of the service innovation Fund of A2i, YPSA is working on a project to convert three accessible Dictionary Bengali to English, English to Bengali, and Bengali to Bengali which will be available online and offline both for all students including persons with visual and print disability, learning disability and disadvantaged groups.
The objective of the project:
- To initiate a process of developing and producing the dictionary in an accessible format for visually impaired students and all classes of people.
- To ensure the availability of accessible dictionaries in order to minimize inequality of information for the print disable, learning disable, visually impaired and information-disadvantaged groups of all the students and all classes of the people.
- The ‘Accessible Dictionary’ contributed to minimizing learning inequality among the visually impaired and students from underprivileged backgrounds in their language learning process of both English and Bangla.
An accessible Dictionary is a dictionary prepared for all types of people and easy to approach, enter, use or understand through printable or digital media. So, it is indeed a unique initiative as the text materials are not only converted into accessible format but also the dictionary was made available for all users in the web platform. Also establishing an Accessible Dictionary is also a unique initiative for Bangladesh as YPSA considered this initiative a giant leap in reducing the gap between print-disabled people and print-enabled peers in case of access to information. With proper advocacy, visually impaired students are now well aware of the availability of study materials in accessible dictionaries. YPSA believes that backward communities are prioritized and opportunities are created for them.
This innovation has a unique feature as the mobile application can be downloaded from the Google Play store and used in offline mode, Word searching is available in four modes: Bangla to Bangla, Bangla to English, English to Bangla and English to English, Auto-suggestion of words while searching, Alphabetically sorted, Easy navigation, Words are grammatically categorized, Examples are included to explain the words easily, Suitable for persons with disabilities.
The accessible dictionary is available online and offline for all students including persons with visual and print disability, learning disability and information-disadvantaged groups. The Accessible Dictionary and reading materials are accessible to all. It is cost-effective, less time-consuming and universally designed so that all can easily access these accessible dictionaries and reading materials all over the country. A large number of people along with persons with disabilities are using it. 4 dictionaries are created from one dictionary.
Activities of the project:
- To convert the four (4) dictionaries Bangla Academy which includes Bangla to Bangla, Bangla to English, English to Bangla and English to English from printed version to text version in Unicode.
- Developing online and offline databases.
- Developing accessible online platform accessibledictionary.gov.bd
- Developing Android app
- Creating Desktop version
- Accessible for people with disability.
- Word searching is available in four modes: Bangla to Bangla, Bangla to English, English to Bangla and English to English
- Auto-suggestion of words while searching
- Alphabetically sorted
- Easy navigation
- Words are grammatically categorized
- Examples are included to explain the words easily
- Suitable for everyone with or without disabilities.
Designed and Support
For preparing the project, Disabled Person Organization (DPO) groups, and students with disabilities had been taken their suggestions. All of them were involved in identifying problems, requiring dictionary books and formatting. All the members of the team worked hard to interact with the target group, collecting their feedback. 10 people with disabilities were involved full-time in the planning for the preparation of the accessible dictionary, promoting the use of the web portal, and implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the project. Besides, 80% project staff including 50% of women were people with disabilities, the Program Manager was also a person with a disability. So, Persons with Disability people fully designed this project.
YPSA is committed to making its electronic and information technologies accessible to print-disabled persons. Considering the situation, YPSA is working on a project to convert three Bangla Academy Dictionaries into accessible formats as Bengali to English, English to Bengali, and Bengali to Bengali with the support of the service innovation Fund of A2i.
The aims and objectives for the future with the intervention:
There are plans to take this achievement further by using artificial intelligence. With more research to be done over the next three years, YPSA believes it will become a more user-friendly dictionary over the next three years. Also, enhancing and expanding this innovation through collaboration with other institutions such as schools, colleges, universities, student groups and Disabled Person Organization (DPO) groups. YPSA will be working to promote and disseminate it in various social media and mass media.
Achievement Regarding SDG:
‘Accessible Dictionary’ (http://accessibledictionary.gov.bd/) is Bangladesh’s first dictionary specially developed for persons with visual, print and learning disability and information disadvantaged groups; yet, beneficial for over 6 million students with/out disabilities.
‘Accessible Dictionary’ is available for all in online and offline, both web and mobile app formats, in Bangla-to-Bangla, Bangla-to-English, English-to-Bangla, and English-to-English versions. They can be read by any screen-reading software and Digital Braille Text allows for easy reproduction of Braille printed versions.
The accessible dictionary is based on the creative and innovative idea of utilizing existing technological prospects, using open-source technology, to reduce exclusion and discrimination. It is accessible for all, cost-effective, less time-consuming and universally designed so that all can have easy access.
Bangladesh became a signatory and a ratifying party to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in 2007 declaring non-discrimination, full and effective participation and inclusion in society, and accessibility, among others. It is a milestone for the journey to universal accessibility Bangladesh understands and recognizes as a precondition to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): the core agenda of “leaving no one behind”, and inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all (SDG 4). The Accessible Dictionary and reading materials are accessible to all. It will be cost-effective, less time-consuming and universally designed so that all can have easy access to this accessible dictionary and reading materials all over the country.