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India’s first online Braille Library


Mumbai : January 19,2012

On January 4th, the birthday of Louis Braille, who invented the six-dot language for the blind, the National Institute for the Visually Handicapped (NIVH) launched the Online Braille Library at the Ali Yawar Jung Institute for the Hearing Handicapped in Mumbai. With over 12,000titles in 14 different languages, it is dedicated to help visually-impaired post graduate students with prescribed texts from numerous colleges across India without any charge. By offering reading formats in Braille as well as audio, the library will cater to students in subjects ranging from mathematics ans IT to history and literature.

 

Online Braille library is the joint initiative by the National Institute of Visually Handicapped (NIVH), Dehradun and the Xavier's Resource Centre for Visually Challenged, Mumbai. The library permits the students to download books and also read them via Refreshable Braille Display Systems (RBDS). The initiative has got a website that will be hosting the members, which would be the institute's libraries across India. The libraries have been given a username and a password. The link to the library is http://www.oblindia.org.

 

The libraries will be uploading all the books available to their online catalogue. With the aim to achieve access, a student is needed to login with the institute's username and password. The books can be downloaded instantly and transferred to the RBDS (a flat horizontal monitor consisting of 80 cells).The download appears on the screen of RBDS as raised units for the students to read.

 

 

The portal has books in 13 languages that display text in the corresponding Braille script. Mohit said by March 2013, they aim to have books in all the Indian languages. Bulk of the books are in Hindi (5414) and English (5202), followed by Gujarati (954), Marathi (928) and Kannada (808)

 

Anuradha Mohit, Director, NIVH, says, "now we have a generation of young computer users among blind persons. Therefore, the launch has been very timely." Though, she admitted the technology is not as advanced as that in developed nations, she informed this was a good start. Ms. Mohit added that with the bulk purchase of RBDS, it's hoped the cost of equipment would come down. Students will then have more such devices at their disposal. Students, however, will have to wait for some time to access the library, as several institutes are yet to receive the RBDS devices.

 

According to the National Association for the Blind, there are 2,82,800 visually challenged people seeking education in the country. Out of that, only about 29,000 get a regular supply of Braille books”. Even though India has a Braille printing capacity of 13 crore pages annually, only about 2 crore Braille pages get printed every year. The reason for this disparity was the extra cost of printing in Braille. Because of the extra pages , special paper and cost of etching a page in Barille is six and a half times more expensive to print than a normal page.

 

Online Braille Library, perhaps provides an answer to this challenge.

 

About NIVH

The National Institute for the Visually Handicapped is a premier Institute in the field of visual disability working under the administrative control of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India. The Institute is working in the field of promoting rights and dignity of persons with visual impairments. The Institute produces trained manpower for providing quality education, vocational training and rehabilitation services to the visually impaired persons. It also undertakes research and developmental activities ensuring emergence of disability inclusive policies, programmes and practices.  NIVH’s R&D activities have contributed a number of useful tools and enabling technologies for equal participation by the visually impaired persons in different walks of life. The Institute is largest producer and distributor of Braille literature and devices in the country including talking books.

 

About Xavier Resource Centre

Xavier Resource Centre, located in the Xavier College, Mumbai works towards equipping the visually challenged persons with the required sets of skills and attitudes to meet the challenges in life, through its Project X-Sight.  It also seeks to expand the access and reach of visually challenged persons in their day-to-day living.

 

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