Tactile Coloring Set for Visually Challenged Kids

Saksham in collaboration with HCL Foundation had started its project Experience zone- Affordable Assistive Technology for Persons with Print Disabilities in 2019. The objectives of this project is to sensitise the parents, educators and stakeholders about the available solutions, and to enable them to try out and identify most appropriate solutions for their specific requirements. The series of articles in coming weeks will focus on some innovative and interesting assistive solutions and their availability for persons with visual impairment on http://www.saksham.blog. 

Inclusion through Colouring Activities

During this period of lockdown, kids with blindness and low vision are all alone at their homes without their friends. Colouring activity can help in the development of multiple skills like concentration, coordination etc. Such a fun learning experience is missing for children with blindness or low-vision.

 Kids with blindness also tend to associate colours with essential characteristics.

 “Yellow is a bright colour like a ray of sunshine falling on my face”

– A 10-year-old kid using the colouring book

 “Pink is my favourite colour, my mother tells me that I look like a fairy in a pink dress”

– A 7-year-old girl using the colouring book

 A Tactile Colouring Set

To bring some spark and fun in their lives, Raised Lines Foundation has developed a tactile colouring set “Fun and Learn with Colours” having a variety of tactile drawings. They are embossed as well as printed on the Braille paper to ensure that each drawing is accessible both for kids with blindness and low-vision.
Colouring set aims at improving the fine motor skills and tactile perception of kids through a series of tactile drawings with increasing complexity and textures.  Following the learning by doing approach, it provides an opportunity for students to broaden their perception by exploring various shapes and objects in a fun, creative and engaging way.

Drawings are printed and embossed on a thick Braille paper. Oil pastel crayons available in the market can be used.

The set of 22 tactile drawing book is now available on www.saktek.in at ₹ 240/-

It can be a wonderful and exciting gift for the kids who have been confined in the four walls of their homes during this pandemic.  

An electronic labelling system for people who are visually impaired and blind

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) report, there are 285 million visually-impaired people worldwide and among these, there are 39 million who are totally blind. There have been several systems designed to support visually impaired people (VIP) and to improve the quality of their lives. However, unfortunately, most of these systems are limited in their capabilities.

There are several portable devices that ensure safety and independent mobility to visually impaired people. Keeping in mind the day-to-day challenges faced by this underprivileged population in our country, SAKSHAM has introduced a unique portable electronic device, called a ‘Sonic Labeller’, an audio labelling device for blind and visually impaired people. This system consists of a pen-like electronic device, enabled with audio recording and outputs and round-shaped labels with barcodes that the device can sense, record and speak. The device has a built-in memory, a microphone and a speaker which allows the visually impaired person to place a sticker like a label on any object, scan it with the device and make an audio recording of that particular object by placing the device on the sticker which holds the audio recording for future reference.

This device comes with a booklet of reusable round shaped labels of different sizes which can be tagged with the required information in audio format. Once a message is recorded and tagged to a label, the pen plays the corresponding audio file every time it is brought closer to that particular label. It is commonly used for labelling different containers in the kitchen, drawers, books, documents, certificates, IDs, medicines, jars, bottles, crockeries, clothes and many more objects which are necessary for daily usage for the individuals.

Features

  • The portable electronic device has an internal memory of 4 GB which can store audio recordings for up to 20 hours;
  • It has a built-in microphone and a speaker;
  • Options for extendable 8 GB memory card;
  • It has a charger, headphone, and a USB cable.

It comes with a booklet of 228 reusable and re-recordable labels to store audio information. In addition, the individuals can also purchase, separately, a pack of 50 washable labels for tagging and identification of their clothes and linens.

For further information log into www.saktek.in

Nothing stops in Saksham during Covid Pandemic

During this difficult time of the worldwide Covid pandemic, schools have been using the digital platform to stay in touch with students and continue their studies. Saksham has not lagged behind in this endeavour.

Teachers at Saksham are connected with their students through WhatsApp audio and video calls or through Zoom. They have made planning for the new session and taking classes accordingly. The activities are being supervised by the seniors and they are also giving their suggestions for further improvement in delivering the concepts. Every day teachers are sharing interesting lessons/ activities on whatsapp. Parents are following those videos and teaching their children. Parents also share videos of the children after completing the task. Teachers are giving homework which the children are submitting through voice messages, videos or images. Teachers and parents are interacting regularly, resolving queries and sharing suggestions. Parents are also communicating among themselves and motivating each other through the videos they are sharing the activities they are doing with their children.

Our integrated children are also attending the online classes conducted by their respective schools. All the students have been promoted to the next class. They have downloaded the NCERT books from E pathshala and the books of other publishers from Sugamaya Pudtakalaya. Their teachers are uploading E lessons and assignments on the website of the school which students are completing and sending back to them for checking. They have started their tuition classes through WhatsApp or conference call with our integrated teachers. They are helping students in completing their assignments and notes. Apart from this some of the students have joined other online classes to appear for competitive exams like through Akash Institute, career launcher, online course in learning Python and chess from Indic AI foundation.

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All this may sound very familiar to normal households in Delhi or NOIDA. However, this becomes special when we realise that all of the above applies to students with blindness or multiple disabilities. These students are between the age group of 1 to 18. At least 70% out of these are from families dependent on daily earnings and economically weaker section of the society. What makes this special is that this transition from normal school learning to digital form of learning has been made possible due to the long term investment of Saksham in digital literacy of all their students right from their childhood. To be able to read and write in  Devanagari and Roman script in addition to the braille script is an integral part of the education program. Every child has their own digital device such as a laptop or smartphone with screen reading software or the refreshable braille display. These devices enable students to be able to read and write in large print or listen to books and assignments or to read or write in braille independently without any external intervention. These very devices enabled them to use the applications and tools for online classes and methods of communications by themselves. This was introduced for their inclusion in mainstream schools and to prepare them for contemporary employment opportunities. This vision of investment into future has paid dividends by allowing to continue their education during the lockdown. Very few children with blindness or low vision have this  privilege in India. It is said that the world will never be the same after Covid-19. We do hope that the state of digital literacy and the age at which this is introduced to children with disabilities such as blindness, low vision, learning disabilities, etc. will change for all. It is often lack of willingness to change and not the lack of resources that stands in the way of introducing digital reading and writing solutions and making them part of their day to day method of studies. If Saksham can do this in India using community support, we certainly believe that it is possible to achieve this for every child with a disability in our country.

How to protect yourself from COVID-19

As we all are aware COVID-19 is spreading rapidly worldwide and we are fighting against this pandemic through maintaining social distancing and by frequently practicing good hygiene.

So, here are some basic and the most important precautions to take to avoid the infection:

A-Wash your hands frequently

Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands soap and water or with an alcohol-based sanitizer.

Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based sanitizer kills the virus that may be on your hands.

B-Maintain Social Distancing

Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.

C-Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.

D-Practice respiratory hygiene

Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.

Why? Droplets spread the virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19

E-If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early

Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.

Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent the spread of viruses and other infections.

F- Stay informed and follow the advice given by your healthcare provider

Say informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow the advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on whether COVID-19 is spreading in your area. They are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.

The Largest Collection Of Online Materials For The Visually Impaired

SAKSHAM has been converting regular books into audiobooks for decades. It’s been a long winding road from that moment to the present time, but presently, the Sugamaya Pustakalaya digital library that is supported by the Indian government more than 500,000 titles available for the blind and print disabled persons. This adds up to the books available in other libraries like Bookshare in the country and makes the Indian system one of the largest complete in the world for people with visual imparity.

Read on to find out about SAKSHAM’s efforts to reach out to readers with visual imparity.

SAKSHAM started the NLS (National Library Service) in collaboration with the government of India i.e. The Sugamya Pustakalaya initiative and took it one step further allowing the distribution of audio-described CDs, DVDs, audiobooks and braille material to all those who are inscribed and have proved to have some kind of visual imparity and print disability. The efforts from the (Talking Books and Braille Library) are aimed to reach out to as many people with visual imparities as they can. The Talking Books and Braille were created with the aim to foster reading and has since transcended that word into other territories like touch, feel and hear. Actually, since the year 2003, the audiobooks were stored into cassette tapes and CDs. By that year, all of them were replaced by digital players and exclusive design USB flash-drive cartridges. The digital players are also designed especially for reading with bookmarking options, navigation buttons, sleep timer and also battery operation for portability. As a part of this initiative, Braille and Audio Reading Download was created to give even more flexibility to the end-users. By the year 2013, an app was created to allow users to use Braille and Audio Reading Book Download in their mobile devices. These measures drastically improved the number of users and the reach that books have over the visually impaired population in SAKSHAM and in the various states across India in general.

All people who live in India can be benefited from these innovative policies are those who are blind and visually challenged and print disabled and do not have access to accessible books for their education and employability.

The Sugamya Pustakalaya library not only provides the books, but it also provides the materials to listen to them. Just like the innovation of the INDO-NVDA which is a screen reading software being open source to generate equity in terms of access. This effort by SAKSHAM makes sure all the persons with blindness and print disability in our country can access this material with no distinction of the economic situation. SAKSHAM is an example for the rest of the country to follow and grant access to a vast number of books that include high school and college books that have been in an alternative format. Hopefully, in the near future, the whole country will offer the same facilities for free to this underprivileged section of this society.

MANI – Mobile Aided Note Identifier.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor launched a new mobile application to help visually impaired persons in identifying the denomination of currency notes known as the Mobile Aided Note Identifier (MANI), the RBI app can be freely downloaded from Android Playstore or iOS.

This new application will help the visually impaired people to identify the denomination of the Indian banknotes Mahatma Gandhi Series and Mahatma Gandhi (New) Series by capturing the image of the notes placed in front of the mobile’s rare camera. The app will generate audio and non-sonic notification intimating the currency note denomination to the user.

The new RBI app will also allow users to choose and change the language, select and change the impairment, voice commands, currency identification using the camera, the history of identified currency for last 30 days and many more features.

– Source TOI/IANS/January 2020

To download the app visit the link below.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rbi.mani

Odisha’s First Visually Impaired Women IAS Officer

Against all odds, a visually impaired student Ms Tapaswini Das has cleared the Odisha Civil Service Examination in 2018 conducted by the Odisha Public Service Commission (OPSC).

With her strong determination to achieve her goals, she secured 161st position in the exam in which 218 have qualified.

Ms Tapaswini who is a resident of Bhubaneshwar lost her vision due to alleged negligence of a Doctor during her eye surgery when she was a student of the second standard.

“When I was seven-year-old I started experiencing headaches and my eyesight started decreasing gradually. My family took me to the doctor who told us that I have lost vision in the left eye and partial vision in right. The operation was done for the right eye after which I lost full vision”.

Speaking on her inspirational achievement, Ms Tapaswini mentioned, “I don’t see this as a success, I see this as my victory. I consider this my first step in the path to success.”

Ms Sulochana Das, State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Odisha also lauded Ms Tapaswini for her achievement and said that she would become the first visually challenged lady administrative service officer of the state.

–          (This story has not been edited by SAKSHAM and is published from a syndicated feed/NDTV- January 10 2020.)

Launch of Saksham’s EVO-E10 and Saktek Online Store!

Saksham is all set to launch its EVO-E10 and Saktek Online Store this Saturday on 14 December 2019.

The EVO-E10 is a daisy player specially designed to be a complete audio substitute for print material. It can be a game-changer for students with visual impairment allowing them to easily record lectures in the classroom or take meeting notes or read books. It offers wide support for reading digital books in various formats such as text, Docx, Doc, PDF, DAISY, EPUB, Daisy Audio and MP3 audio.

The device comes equipped with many special features. It not only offers full navigation support but also provides the option of increasing or reducing playback speed as per the preference of the user. It has in-built Wi-Fi receiver enabling the user to listen to podcasts, internet radio and allowing for direct download from digital libraries such as Sugamaya Pustakalaya. Other key features include keypad operability, device compatibility with 18 Indian languages including English, Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada, its recognition of computer downloads and easy portability.

In addition to the above-mentioned features, EVO-E10 also takes care of everyday needs of students and other age groups offering utilities such as Talking alarm clock, Talking Calculator, Talking Compass, FM Radio and music player.

Saktek Online Store

Now persons with visual impairment and sight loss can easily procure digital solutions such as the EVO-E10 online with just a click thanks to Saksham’s launch of its online store ‘Saktek.in’ (www.saktek.in) on the same day of the EVO-E10 launch.

The online store promises to help families across India access digital solutions with ease, possibly impacting the lives of India’s over 50 lakh persons with sight loss.

The store will feature a wide variety of products including in the domains of orientation and mobility, education and employment, recreational activities and products that facilitate independent living.

Paytm or Google Pay- Which one is more accessible?

A comparative analysis of all the apps recently developed for money transaction. Over a decade, we get to see the remarkable progress made, which has increased the worth of a smartphone in manifolds. The best part of these apps is that, every individual regardless of his or her disability can access and perform their mundane task in the same way a sighted or an abled person does. Over a period apps like Paytm, Google Pay, Phone Pay and many more apps for money transfer have been designed. In this article, I will be drawing a comparison between the apps mentioned above. The aspect which would be closely analysed is accessibility.

After discussing with several visually impaired users, I realized that Google pay is most accessible on android and I Phones. However, apps like Paytm still needs immense development for making it entirely accessible for a low vision and a visually impaired person. The features like adding money to wallet, sending and receiving money, recharging mobile phones and bill payments are not that easy on Paytm.

Scratching reward coupons, is one feature which is not accessible in Google Pay that hinders  our complete independence on a sighted person while using the app.

Keeping in mind the issue addressed in this article, I would enlist some of the features missing on Paytm but on google pay all these are accessible for visually impaired.

Checking once account’s balance can easily be done by google pay, whereas it is not possible by Paytm as the buttons are not properly labelled.

The features that can make this app better and accessible are: labelling all the buttons, a menu guiding for the procedure to be followed for adding money to the wallet.

In the end, I would like to thank all the developers, for making an attempt of designing accessible apps for us.

By

Pinky Singh

 

 

 

Vocational Training at Saksham Resource Centre

Children who are unable to cope with formal education as a result of their low IQ are given vocational training. They receive functional knowledge of Mathematics, Science, and Social Sciences through the vocational training they receive. For instance, they learn maths while they sort shapes, count and string beads to make jewelry. They learn about the nutritional values of food, weights, proportions, learn to identify different vegetables, fruits, spices when they learn to prepare food items. They learn about their social environment when they go shopping, visit the post office, places of worship; go on a metro ride, etc. They are also trained in money transaction while running a mobile canteen at our centre. The strength and preference of the children are assessed and they are trained in making paper bags, gift envelopes, jewelry, decorative pieces involving threading beads, etc. Some girls show a preference towards household activities like cooking, cleaning, washing, managing stock for the canteen. All these training and exposure prepares them for their future life. As the children reach the threshold of upper age limit criteria of Saksham a transition plan is prepared for these children based on the interest and skill of the child. Some are sent for training or internship in places based on their area of interest and expertise while others receive in-house training at Saksham itself. After their training or internship, they are helped to set up a mode of earning and improving their skill set.