Textbooks now available on phones
Visually impaired students of Classes X, XI and XII to get devices with easily navigable digital library
Students from Classes X, XI and XII, who are visually impaired and will be taking up the board examinations this year, have an additional aid to textbooks in Braille and audio formats — mobile phones, which will help them access their textbooks.
The devices have been distributed to nearly 150 students, who are visually challenged, as well as resource centres functioning under the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and have been developed in collaboration with Samsung, Cognizant and Bookshare. The Samsung mobile phones come installed with Bookshare, an online accessible library for persons with print disabilities.
“As part of the first phase of this project for the current academic year, we have identified visually impaired students from classes X, XI and XII and have begun to distribute the mobile phones. The aim behind this was to ensure that the students have accessible learning material which they can carry anywhere with them,” said S. Kanappan, Director of the RMSA.
He said they were working towards identifying more students who are visually challenged — in both special and mainstream schools. As a part of the same initiative, nearly 100 devices were distributed to students last year.
All the textbooks prescribed under the State board stream for classes X, XI and XII have been made available in both English and Tamil on Bookshare in the DAISY (Digital Accessible Information Systems) format.
Speaking about the usage of the device, G. Kumaresan, outreach and training consultant with Bookshare, explained that the Samsung device had been customised for academic learning. “Through Bookshare, the students can access their textbooks easily and in a way that helps them with easy navigation, bookmarking, as well as highlighting important points. All this is generally not possible using conventional audio versions of the textbooks. At present, nearly 371 books are also available in Tamil for students across Tamil Nadu,” he said.
Apart from their textbooks, the students also have access to over 5 lakh other books. Mr Kumaresan also said that based on requests from students, they could add more books to the online library in an accessible format.
Special educators at resource centres run by the RMSA in government and Corporation schools in Chennai have also been helping students get familiarised with the device. K. Manjula, a special educator working with schools in Triplicane and Adyar, said that the students, who had been using the devices for the last one week, had found it convenient and comfortable to navigate through.
“Braille books are often cumbersome and heavy and having textbooks accessible through a mobile phone will be extremely useful for students who are visually challened,” she said.