Free software developed for & by a visually impaired, needs your support

Available in various languages it aims at providing an alternative to current technologies like screen readers
blind.

In order to empower visually impaired people Krishnakant Mane (35), who has lost hisvision, started a crowd funding campaign to start a lab for employment-based training of underprivileged/disabled people and developing free software. Mane is a software engineer and a resident of Dadar.

Mane lost his vision completely in childhood. He double graduated from the University of Mumbai with a BA in economics and BSc in Computer Science. Along with chartered accountant (CA) Arun Kelkar he founded Digital Freedom Foundation (DFF) and developed GNUKhata which is a free, accessible and standards-based accounting software available in various Indian languages. It is not just a cost-effective alternative for practising chartered accountants, but can reduce the cost of buying accounting software for small and medium scale industries, because they don’t have to pay a licence fee for officially using the programme.
This software would also help blind people take up accounting as their career with ease due to the fact that it could be used with free talking software. There is one more software Orca on the basis of which the entire computer can talk. Mane is one of the lead developers of Orca screen reader; Orca is also used by Mane and will be used for training blind programmers.”
Mane did software engineering as part of an integrated Ph.d. program where research is on-going. He said, “When I completed my SSC and appeared in the merit list I wished to take up a career in software engineering. I always wanted to do software engineering, but Mumbai University does not have talking technology. I did BA in Economics from Ruia College and then software engineering.”

Mane added, “Our crowd funding campaign started two weeks ago and till now we have been able to raise more than Rs one lakh. Our target is to raise Rs. 6.5 lakh for our lab where not only interns can come and do their projects but we can also train blind people. The unique aspect of this vision is that we make exclusive use of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) for achieving our goal. Proprietary assisting technologies like screen readers are so costly that disabled people or their potential employers find it extremely difficult to afford its procurement, thus significantly lowering the employment of the disabled. Hence FOSS becomes the only way in which employment can be made easy and affordable.”

The funding raised will not just be used for procuring a workplace. It would also be used for computers, recording equipment such as condenser mics for creating audio tutorials as a free course material for blind people, developing free course materials for rural IT training and to carry out recurring expenses including internet and electricity bills. This would result in an uninterrupted and comfortable execution of DFF’s training and development projects in free and open source software.

With the help of Mane Tamil Nadu government started a project True Vision in 2008 named as ELCOT.
To fund for Mane’s mission visit– http://igg.me/at/dff-org/x/12679366

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