The Multi-lingual Software Package developed by the IIT Madras, and used by Vidya Vrikshah, is essentially an Editor Programme and is available in three Versions : a DOS Version, a Windows-95 Version, and an Enhanced Windows-95 Version. All the versions enable creation of text files in any Indian language, as also in English. Languages can be mixed in input, within a file, and even within the same text line.

    The enhancement in the third Version is that it is speech enabled for use by the visually handicapped in most Indian languages and also English, with options for speech echo of input, letter by letter, word by word, line by line, or of a whole file. Pitch and speed of speech can be adjusted. The DOS Version is carried on a single Floppy Disk and can work even on a PC-XT. The Win-95 Version is carried on two Floppy Disks and can work even on an entry level PC- 486. The Enhanced Win-95 Version requires 50 MB of Hard Disk storage for the Package, and will work on a Pentium with a speed of 133 MHz or over, with RAM of 32 MB or over, together with a sound card and speakers.

    A phonetic code design makes it possible for the Package to be extended virtually to any phonetic based language. The DOS version supports Devanagari (for Hindi and Sanskrit), Gujarati, Bengali, Assamese, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese and IPA. (The last item is the
standard International Phonetic Alphabet for diacritised English representation of Indian texts). For want of acceptable free fonts, some of the above languages are not yet supported in the Windows versions. Support for the Urdu script is expected shortly. The Package handles the archaic Grantha script; and support for other ancient
scripts like Brahmi are under study.

    All three versions follow a uniform file format, making the files transportable between all the versions. Utilities are available to convert an ASCII file to the file formats used by the Software. Supporting utilities are available for enabling use of email and preparing Web presentations in Indian languages. Utilities are also available for adapting other popular keyboard layouts and for conversion to or from ISCI file formats used by other language editor packages in the country and also conversion to and from files using the IPA and ITRANS representation in English

    Finally, it must be noted that this Software Package and training in it's use are offered free of cost by the IIT Madras and Vidya Vrikshah respectively. The development of the Package represents the IIT's continuing commitment to promoting IT-aided multi-lingual solutions for communication, literacy and education,
as also the study of ancient scripts (including preservation and dissemination of the content of ancient manuscripts) in the country.

    Though today, the synthesised speech output of the Enhanced Windows Version is monotone, it is clear enough and has been hailed as a new dawn by the blind of different language groups in the country, who do not know English. Work continues on improving the speech quality to make it closer to natural speech. In due course it
will also become possible, for people to speak to or give instructions to the computer in the Indian languages. Web sites and web browsers for Indian language content, online multi-lingual dictionaries, automated language translators, local language interfaces to business applications, programming in Indian languages, etc are all in
the pipeline.

    The DOS Version includes a Users Manual as a disk file. Use of the Windows Versions is facilitated by Screen Menus, and also have extensive On-line Help. The Key-board Mapping and Key-board Operations of the Package are summarised in other pages of this presentation.