[Athen] RE: RoboBraille

Sean Keegan skeegan at stanford.edu
Tue Nov 19 16:35:41 PST 2013

To follow-up on Joshua's comment - the SCRIBE system uses Abbyy FineReader Corporate Edition and the reason for this is because we manage the system on-campus vs. the hosted solution other institutions are implementing. Overall, it works okay, but Recognition Server is far more robust in terms of speed and recovery from corrupted PDF documents.

When we built SCRIBE, FineReader Corporate Edition was the only viable option for us as Recognition Server was too expensive. Every so often I do have to go and restart the Abbyy Corporate Edition application on our system as a corrupted PDF file will stop the automatic processing and, from what I can tell, this does not happen with Recognition Server (on the other hand, you don't suffer quite as many heart attacks from the RS pricing). Getting access to Recognition Server is far better for overall reliability.

I am not too concerned about the future of the Robobraille/SensusAccess portal as there is too much investment by other entities around the world to let it expire. As Joshua mentioned, I also suggest the system for users once they leave the institutional environment and believe this resource will continue until something better comes along.

Take care,

On Nov 19, 2013, at 4:06 PM, Joshua Hori <jhori at ucdavis.edu> wrote:

> Hello everyone!


> Along with UC Irvine, UC Davis has also purchased a hosted license of SensusAccess to be used by faculty, students, or staff using a UCDavis email addresses. This is to ensure that our students can provide their own conversions if needed and to support development. Currently, SensusAccess is paid by European governments for European students. When the SensusAccess group came to the US Government for funding, they were told to request funds from institutions instead.


> So, what do I get with my license?

> I get an iframe to add to one of my web pages which allows students to submit a file from their computer (default on SA’s main page), or I have the ability to post a file via URL (non-authentication), or I can copy and paste text into a textbox for conversion.


> I also get the ability to request features to be implemented. One feature that was implemented at our request was the ability to have files available as download links instead of being attached to emails. This was due to some documents being too large (over 30M) for some email systems, to which they added code to recognize file size limitations and send users a link instead of an attachment. Technical issues are usually resolved via email within an hour as well.


> A benefit is that I don’t have to pay for that outrageous pricetag that ABBYY recognition server was requesting, which increased depending on how many cores you plan on using within your processor (look underneath my signature for the quotes I was given…). I also don’t have to pay, or maintain, a server, or have to worry about the setup, licensing, or maintenance of all the programs needed for the conversion process. (MS Office, OpenOffice, Calibre, DAISY Pipeline, NeoSpeech voices, Mailserver, FTP, RoboBraille, and all the plug-ins and specialized software). There is a slight difference between ABBYY Pro, which I believe SCRIBE is using, and ABBYY recognition server, which is what SA is using.


> I instruct our students on how to use the UC Davis hosted service for their needs, and that they can continue to use the open SensusAccess portal for conversions after higher ed. If this service dies after a few years, then all my plans to support my students after higher ed vanishes as well. NOT GOOD.


> Sorry, I went full nerd on everyone. I know…I’m not supposed to go full nerd, but…I did.


> TL;DR – Yeah, we pay for the service…and it has its’ ups and downs, but yet…it’s beautiful.


> Joshua Hori

> Accessible Technology Analyst

> University of California, Davis

> Student Disability Center


> ABBYY Recognition Server (OCR support)

> · $3,366 for 1 million page conversions, $1,346 annual maintenance (locked to a single core)

> · $2,993 for 300k page conversions, $1,197 annual maintenance (locked to a single core)

> · $1,850 for 100k page conversions, $740 annual maintenance (locked to a single core)

> · Dual core license: $12k, $4,800 annual maintenance

> · Quad core license: $18k

> o Has the ability to convert 100k pages per night


> Remember…this is just for the OCR software.


> From: athen-list-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu [mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of James Bailey

> Sent: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 9:56 AM

> To: athen-list-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu; athen-list at u.washington.edu

> Subject: [Athen] RoboBraille




> Hello all:

> I think the RoboBraille service is great and I tell our Alt-format users about it. I particularly recommend it for those study sessions when a picture-only PDF comes off of BlackBoard etc. and a the student needs it converted quickly to keep working.

> I have received an e-mail or two from them suggesting we (U Oregon) need an agreement with them. We do not use it at all in our production process. I simply make students aware of it and the students then use it or not as individuals.


> This is from their web site (it’s cut and paste so any typos are theirs):

> “RoboBraille is available 24/7 as a self-service solution, it is free of charge to all individual, non-commercial users and users need not register in order to use the service. The objective is to support and promote self-sufficiency of people with special needs socially, throughout the educational system and on the labour market. As an additional benefit, RoboBraille helps to protect the privacy of of those who need material in alternate formats.”

> This seems pretty cut and dried to me.

> If you have a take on this, please share it.


> Oh it gets better!


> From: Tanja Stevns <tanja at sensus.dk>

> Sent: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 9:10 AM

> To: James Bailey

> Subject: SV: Document conversion

> James,

> The users go through our SensusAccess engine. The requests is coming from University of Oregon. I am not talking about

> personal private use of individuals using RoboBraille as you are referring to in this mail.

> Now I have tried to approach this in the best way possible but we will take action on further ongoing use from

> universities who do not wish to make an agreement with us.

> Have a nice day,

> Tanja


> My take on this is that they are seeing our student e-mail accounts as being the University of Oregon.


> As Tanja says, “Have a nice day”


> James



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