Visually-impaired people have difficulty reading handwritten or printed documents that are not written in Braille. Totally blind people cannot read handwritten or printed documents that are not in Braille. A large fraction of written language encountered in daily life or travel still does not appear in Braille, thereby denying visually impaired and completely blind people access to such information. The present disclosure describes techniques to scan one’s surroundings using a low-profile camera, to identify objects and/or written language using an object or character recognition system, and to convey scanned information aurally to a user. Machine learning and inference models are used to automatically perform the tasks of object identification, character recognition, etc. Such a system can be used by visually impaired and totally blind people, and also by individuals without visual impairment — such as travelers who want to translate written text found in their surroundings, e.g., signboards, menu items, etc.

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