The Bilkent University Computer Engineering Department has announced the release of a new computer program called "OKU", designed expressly for the use of visually handicapped people who speak Turkish. The OKU program is expected to provide them with further opportunities to use computers for research and course work.
OKU can read a given text out loud in clear Turkish. Visually handicapped people can listen to all written documents, such as books, papers and journals, that are stored in txt or rtf formats. Previously, the only option the visually handicapped had was to seek help from volunteers who would read the articles aloud to them.
OKU can also serve as a word processor for the visually handicapped. During the typing or editing of a document, OKU reads out each keystroke and each word right after it is typed in. OKU has all the features that can be found in any simple word processor, for example, cursor movements, string searches, and printing. Other useful components include a calculator and a talking clock and calendar. Volume can be adjusted by means of the keyboard, so users do not need a mouse or any other visual-based tools.
The program has been developed by Assoc. Prof. H. Altay Güvenir, the supervisor of the project, with students Bertan Arı and Ümit Çatalyürek. Bertan Arı says, "I'm proud to be playing a part in the implementation of a program that will make the life of the visually handicapped a little easier." OKU is yet another step on the path to making Bilkent University a barrier-free institution. Best of all, the program is free to download and install from the Internet. The URL for OKU is www.cs.bilkent.edu.tr/~guvenir/Oku.