Inputs can be made using any type of keyboards on mobile phones and the outputs are read through Morse code vibrations.
It was developed by Anmol Anand, a final year student of Masters of Computer Applications at Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute of Management, Delhi, using the Google App Inventor for the Android smartphone platform.
PocketSMS can be downloaded for free from Bapsi.org, the website of the Bidirectional Access Promotion Society which combines policy-related work with technology development to help individuals with communication access related issues.
“Most of the assistive technologies address only one sort of disability," said Arun Mehta, founder of Bapsi.org.
"We have voice recognition software for the blind and Braille keyboards, but nothing for those who might be both deaf and blind."
The newspaper said PocketSMS aims to make differently-abled people independent communicators.
It works on the premise that both the visually-challenged and the hearing-impaired can feel the vibrations that indicate an SMS has been received and reply through short and long vibration pulses.
“We have provided clear instructions for caregivers to help install the software,” says Mehta. “It works best when the screen guard is turned off.”
To help users learn the Morse code, Bapsi has a free Morse Trainer application.
PocketSMS can pick up a short speech and convey it through Morse vibrations to users. This is especially useful for the hearing impaired who might often find speech difficult.“Braille devices can be expensive," said Mehta. "The idea of PocketSMS takes advantage of the old Morse technology using vibrations that is really easy to program on smart phones.”
Since vibrations can convey only a small amount of text at a time, work is now on to make Twitter accessible.
“Since Twitter supports a small number of characters, we can use it to process more information,” notes Mehta.
Bapsi.org is looking for volunteers to test their products.
“We are trying to develop a way to bring the Wikipedia through this application onto phones for the differently-abled," said Mehta.
"We are trying to do this by excluding the pictures and transferring only the text. We want to develop even simpler products but can't do that without willing volunteers testing our products.”