Georgia’s top state prize has been awarded to two young software programmers for their work to adapt the Revenue Service website for visually impaired individuals.
Friends Beka Gozalishvili and Lado Urdulashvili were awarded the Order of Honour at a special ceremony in front of family, friends and officials. The two were nominated for, and handed the prize by Tbilisi Mayor David Narmania at yesterday’s awards ceremony.
Prompted by their own visual disabilities the tech enthusiasts created a fully-fledged audio version of the state service website to assist people with all degrees of visual impairment as well as those who preferred audio-based website navigation.
The website allowed viewers not only to use its services but also to receive latest important news and information about the Revenue Service via audio means rather than by reading.
These young boys proved with the result of their work that … a person can create something important both for themselves as well as the general public,” Narmania said while speaking about the decision to award the duo.
The programmers’ latest project comes after they successfully completed of a similar audio version of the Interior Ministry’s police website.
Award winner Urdulashvili told ipress.ge on Tuesday that he and Beka had worked for three years to create an engine that made access to audio websites possible.
Similar software exists [for websites] in all countries but it had not been available for pages made in Georgian language. We started by creating an engine and then connected it to our visual impairment accessibility software called NVDA. This enabled us to create audio versions for all the website’s content,” Urdulashvili told ipress.ge.
The young programming enthusiast also spoke about the challenges and issues facing visually impaired individuals in Georgia.
He noted the pair had ideas to create audio versions for bus stops and ATM bank machines but said there had been no response from Tbilisi City Hall and private banks to their relevant offers.
Urdulashvili said he hoped the software would help visually impaired individuals utilise state online services “in real time”, adding people with disabilities “should not be dependent on other people” for their needs.
The young programmer noted there were 8,000 to 12,000 people with some form of visual impairment in Georgia.
Over the years Georgia’s Order of Honour has been awarded to various public figures as well as culture and sports personalities including author Otar Tchiladze, figure skater Elene Gedevanishvili and film director Zurab Kandelaki.