Blind 'unlock' PDF content with system developed by viz professor

Francis Quek

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Editor’s note : Texas A&M Today writer Elena Watts explains how new technology developed by Francis Quek, professor of [visualization] ( , helps blind people “unlock” content in portable document format files (PDFs).

The system, said Quek, allows blind students and scholars at any university to read the same documents and assignments at a much smoother pace with more control than is currently available to them.


With a grant from the National Science Foundation, Texas A&M Professor of Visualization Francis Quek has developed technology for talking books that allows people who are blind to access more literature with increased command over their reading experiences.

STAAR Description Format (SDF), the novel technology developed by Quek, converts any portable document format (PDF) to a version the blind can read on an iPad. The users scan the text with their fingers to hear the words, control the pace of their reading, keep their place on the page, refer back to text, highlight important information and take notes, much like the experience enjoyed by those who are sighted.

[Read the full story by Elena Watts in Texas A&M Today.] (

posted February 28, 2018