Text­books now avail­able on phones

Vis­ually im­paired stu­dents of Classes X, XI and XII to get de­vices with eas­ily nav­i­ga­ble dig­i­tal li­brary

The Hindu - - CHENNAI - S. Poor­vaja

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.

Con­ve­nient 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.

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