We’re very pleased to present a project we’ve been working on for some time at the Staunton Media Lab. We call it The Google Translate Trick. These are instructions for using Google Translate to read any printed document. For the blind and visually impaired, this technique has the potential to make life a little easier by reading things to you such as street signs, menus, legal documents, written instructions, books, magazines, newspapers, and almost any other printed document—in up to 90 different languages! Wow! That’s life-changing.
The Google Translate Trick is a crude scanner-to-voice system that is very close to being a great piece of assistive technology. With a couple tweaks, it could open up entire libraries to the blind without the need for embossing into Braille or producing talking books. Right now, it can be an incredible facilitator for the visually impaired who have enough sight to position the camera. They can use it to have legal documents or other important information—such as prescription labels or doctor’s instructions—read to them by their phones.
We have been trying to work out the bugs in this presentation, but there are just too many issues to deal with. We feel it is important to present the information we have and then continuously improve it. Below is a 2-minute video of the technique, followed by step-by-step instructions, and then an edited, audio-only version of the instructions. We sincerely welcome your feedback in the comments section about your experiences attempting The Google Translate Trick and your suggestions for improving our instructions. Thank You!