Low vision enhancing tech for visually challenged

PRAKASH KAMAT/THE HINDU, PANAJI | 28 October 2013 20:23 IST

An ambitious project to make literature accessible for the visually challenged persons in three formats: Braille, audio and low-vision enhancing technology, is being pursued in Nagpur, Maharashtra by “Saksham”, a civil society organisation working for the cause of blind.

The project will involve setting up a Centre for conversion of Indian and global literature into these blind-friendly formats and then make them available at a library of such books to be operated through e-Kiosk.

It is taken up on a matching grants basis by “Saksham” in joint collaboration with Mid-Town Rotary Club of Nagpur and Rotary International of Tanzania, said Shirish Darvekar, Technical Director of ‘Saksham’ while speaking at an interaction programme organised by ‘Anam Prem’ in the city on Sunday as part of its three-day “Mela” for visually impaired persons.

Nearly 100 blind schoolchildren from Mai Bal Bhavan, Pune; Sneha Jyoti, Mandangad; Dyan Prabodhini, Kolhapur and Dr. Narendra Bhivapur Blind school, Amravati along with social activists are in Goa on a three-day excursion.

Mr. Darvekar earlier demonstrated ‘Abrar’, an innovative audio equipment developed by him through “Saksham”.

Mr. Darvekar told The Hindu that the establishment cost of the “literature access” project was estimated at Rs. 15 lakh while the cost of various equipment is estimated to be Rs. 5 lakh.

The “Saksham” and Rotary propose to replicate the project in other centres of the country once the project stabilises at Nagpur.

He said that already they have been in touch with writers and litterateurs in Maharashtra to allow them copyright permissions to liberally convert their literary works into forms that can be accessed by visually impaired. He also said that they may need to push the government to amend the Copyrights Act for the purpose.

Marathi poet Abaji Vasant Dahake said that three of his books were in the process of being converted into Braille.

Activities

Earlier in the day, “Special Children: Playing To learn, A handbook for parents of children who have special needs” authored by Pam Gandekar, Occupational Therapist, Pune was released by Prof. (retd) Purushottam Mahajan, co-founder president of National Organisation of Blind. Mr. Mahajan’s special issue of his magazine “Antarvedh” devoted to the cause of visually impaired, was released by Marathi writer Prabha Ganorkar.

Mr. Mahajan said literature was a very powerful media to generate public awareness about the cause of blind people and also a “creative medium which can create “self-realisation” among educated blind persons.

 

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