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A workshop inaugurating the official distribution of a landmark development of GeezBraille was held on March 15 at Abraha Bahta Primary School for the Blind. On the occasion in which representatives from the Ministry of Education took part, designer of GeezBraille, Fitsum Gaim, gave briefings as regards the computer programs he has developed thus far.

“GeezBraille is a powerful shareware software designed to convert print texts written in Geez script into Braille,” Fitsum explained. “The development of this application not only eliminates the mind-numbing experience that has been gone to waste for manually Brailing print texts, but also significantly reduces human intervention for the desired Braille output,” he added.

Being the first of its kind at continental level, this cross-platform stand-alone application is more than a translation tool for brailing services. It is a self-contained word-processor capable of printing out ASCII and Unicode texts and embossing in a number of adjustable page layouts.

“With the advent of GeezBraille,” says Tezare Aynalem, Director of Abraha Bahta School, “we have managed to instantly convert the primary level syllabi in this scholastic year. In collaboration with the Ministry of Education, we will, with every curricular review, be able to distribute academic Braille textbooks to our visually challenged students right away, thanks to GeezBraille.”

In the course of the one-day workshop, Tedros Markos of Eritrea Profile discussed how the contemporary Assistive Technology is embracing Braille and speech technologies simultaneously. In his presentation titled “Braille Standards and Adaptive Technology”, the press journalist pointed out the limitations of Tigrinya Braille as opposed to the international standards of Braille codes in other languages.

On top of converting Geez-based scripts, GeezBraille is equipped with the feature of translating English print texts into English Braille Grade 1. Full-fledged Braille editor as it is, version 1 of GeezBraille is not only of service for trained Braillists, it does also have the capacity for importing standard print and Braille file types produced by popular commercial applications such as Microsoft® Word®, Excel®, PowerPoint® and Adobe’s portable document files. Its seemly interoperability with different operating systems, Assistive Technologies as well as standard braille printers (embossers) makes GeezBraille the leading Braille editor for texts written in languages believed to be of Geez root.The Java™-based GeezBraille will be uploaded soon on EriLingual Solutions blog for downloads by interested individuals around the world.

Fitsum Gaim, an instructor of Computer Science at the EIT, has already designed, among other applications, Windows®, Linux and Mac versions of Geez Input Method Editor software–otherwise known as GeezIME–for composing and producing Geez-based scripts for publications as well as on the Internet. Interestingly, version 2 of this shareware

Snapshot of a block of print text converted by GeezBraille
software is already available for download on his EriLingual Solutions blog.

The latest release of GeezIME is proven compatible with all editions of Microsoft® Windows® 8 Desktop and its predecessors as well as Linux and Mac operating systems. Despite a number of Geez applications have come onto the market, what makes this intuitive and easy-to-use shareware program number one choice of writers and printing houses compared with many other commercial fonts is not only its System wide Unicode compliant input method editor that is patterned after an English keyboard, but also the new non-serif and yet appealing Unicode font type, known as Geez Able, which has already managed to save several pages for publication.

Since inception, GeezIME is designed in various editions of which some are tailored to the needs of the visually challenged and the hearing-impaired. Besides the Tigrinya on-Screen Keyboard feature that enables to compose Geez-based scripts using mouse or a touch input system, the built-in Eritrean Sign Language–EriSL–font can be used to transform Tigrinya, English and Arabic texts to the recently standardized Eritrean Sign Language fingerspelling and vice versa.

Fitsum Gaim has of late designed a new release of GeezIME for cell phones with Android operating system. Indeed, mutual complementarity of EriLingual Solutions’ innovations is the added value of the products that are increasingly drawing admiring feedback from wide-ranging clienteles. The fact that national newspapers “Hadas Ertra” in Tigrinya as well as “Ertrya Hadas” in Tigre have for well over a year been produced using GeezIME bears out the versatility of this small shareware from end-users point of view.

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