World Braille Day: Education tools for the visually-impaired

On World Braille Day, we look at tools of education for the visually-impaired, such as accessible e-books and the Digital Accessible Information System

“If there aren’t enough books for all, let book shops perish,” says K Raghuraman, co-ordinator, Karna Vidya Foundation and professor at the Department of English, Government Arts College for Men. His sentiments may seem rather extreme, but in reality, they are expressions of the adversity of a visually-impaired reader. Less than half percent of books in any library around Chennai are written in Braille, considering four out of every thousand people in Tamil Nadu are visually-impaired.

The introduction of accessible e-books has been a boon for such readers, despite low levels of awareness. On World Braille Day, we tackle an important question — where should Braille proceed?

Braille is a symbol. It stands for knowledge, education, and literacy. It is a system that initiates a thirst for knowledge. We should not harp on this age-old system, but use it as a symbol for independent learning,” says Raghuraman, who, at KVF, encourages the online accessible format for learning. “You cannot expect a child or the uninitiated to use the e-book format. They need Braille as an introductory tool. Similarly, you cannot expect a high school student to resort to Braille when his peers are scaling heights in robotics,” he continues.

While the ePUB formats (short for electronic publication) are the way to go, Braille texts remain indispensable for beginners as primal learning tools. One of the main publishers of Braille books in the city is the National Institute for Visually Handicapped (NIVH). It published about 31,806 Braille volumes of 200 titles between April and November 2018, with prints ranging from magazines to children’s stories to State course books.....Read more


Source web page: The hindu

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