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.

A complete audio substitute for print material- Daisy Player

A device which allows a print disabled person to read digital talking books and audio material, access e-text / computer-generated material, as well as to record information.

Saksham has introduced two high-end daisy players which are apt for Indian users. Saksham Evo E5 and Evo E-10 have created a boom in the market. The devices have become every visually impaired student’s must-have. Let us know more about the devices and their features.

SAKHSAM EVO- E5 evo- e5 png fle

  • Evo- E5 is full-featured audio recorder and the player with inbuilt support to reading e-books in various formats like text, doc, DAISY, and EPUB.
  • The user can read the books in 7 Indian languages including Indian English, Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada in high-quality human-like voices.
  • The device offers full navigation support to the users.
  • Playback speed can be increased or reduced as per the preference of the user.
  • Has the inbuilt memory of 8GB which can be extended to 32 GB with the external memory card.
  • EVO E5 can be used for easily recording lectures in the classroom or taking meeting notes, in addition to reading books in Indian languages.
  • It can also be used as a Music player and digital audio clock. The device also has an FM receiver and built-in rechargeable battery.

SAKSHAM EVO- E10 

Evo E10 Daisy talking book player recorder

Evo E-10 is a daisy player specially designed to be a complete audio substitute for print material and is specifically designed for people with “print disability”, including blindness, vision impairment.

The device feature audio recorder and the player with inbuilt support to reading digital books in various formats like text, Docx, Doc, PDF, DAISY, EPUB, Daisy Audio and MP3 audio. The user can read the books in 16 Indian languages including Indian English, Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada in high- quality human-like voices.

The device offers full navigation support to the users. Playback speed can be increased or reduced as per the preference of the user.

EVO- E10 can be used for easily recording lectures in the classroom or taking meeting notes, in addition to reading books in Indian languages. The device has an in-built wifi receiver it enables listening to internet radio and podcast as well as direct download and reading books from online digital libraries like Sugamya Pystakalaya and Bookshare. It also has utilities such as talking alarm clock, Talking Calculator, Talking Compass, FM Radio and music player.

Should I say ‘disabled person’ or ‘person with a disability’?

Recently, an Alberta woman with an obvious physical disability was asked to leave a grocery store and not come back because she could not pack her own groceries quickly enough. According to the report on CBC’s Go Public, the checkout clerk said she was slowing down the line as she struggled to bag her groceries, and the store said no staff were available to help her. Presumably, neither were other patrons.

To Read more click on the link below:

https://theconversation.com/should-i-say-disabled-person-or-person-with-a-disability-113618

DotBook- India’s First Braille Laptop

 “Dotbook“, the refreshable Braille display that has been developed over several years of effort is finally ready for release. After multiple iterations and incorporation of feedback from hundreds of users, the device has been launched on February 27, 2019.

An inter-disciplinary multi-organization young team from AssisTech (IIT Delhi), KritiKal Solutions, Phoenix Medical Systems, and Saksham has made the development possible.

At present, high-end Braille displays are very expensive and seldom used. Based on IIT Delhi’s patented Shape Memory Alloy technology, DotBook brings this cost down to 25% of the existing displays, thus making this solution accessible to the millions who were previously not catered to.

The device comes packed with custom developed applications & features that one would need to independently carry out his / her day to day tasks, be it the educational assignments or office work, with ease, such as:

  • Full-fledged document processor with Microsoft word abilities to read, edit, navigate, and format documents seamlessly.
  • Advanced email client to manage multiple email accounts.
  • Built-in Web browser for browsing Web pages at your fingertips.
  • Access to online digital libraries like Sugamya Pustakalaya, Bookshare etc
  • Has built-in braille translation that supports open and contracted formats.
  • Support for commonly used file formats like brf, brl, txt, docx and epub.
  • Support for Indian languages, pdf, daisy and text to speech available in the near future through software upgrades

The device comes out in two variants: DotBook 40Q, a 40-Cell Display with QWERTY keyboard; and DotBook 20P, a 20-Cell Display with Braille keyboard

For more information about this revolutionary product, kindly drop a mail at dotbook@saksham.org or call at 9013232311.

 

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SUGAMYA PUSTAKALYA- A step towards an Accessible Digital India

Saksham’s new venture in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment with member organizations of Daisy Forum of India (DFI) and powered by TCS Access Infinity is the SUGAMYA PUSTAKALAYA.

Sugamya Pustakalaya an online library, is India ‘s first and largest collection of accessible books. The Pustakalaya is the aggregator of accessible versions of books available in India. This library has been created by DAISY Forum of India to provide access to books to persons with print disabilities. It is poised to become the largest collection of books in accessible formats in India and a one-stop resource for the reading requirements of all those persons who due to blindness, weak eyesight or any other disability cannot read the standard print.

Bookshare, the largest International online library for persons with print disabilities is also integrated into Sugamya Pustakalaya. All the titles available in Bookshare library for India can be searched and downloaded through the Sugamya Pustakalaya through Bookshare credentials.

The Pustakalaya makes 5,25,176 Books in 8 languages available for download providing books primarily in DAISY, EPUB and BRF format. The files downloaded from the online library can be read on computers, mobile phones, tablets, and dedicated devices.

The key stakeholders and beneficiaries of Sugamya Pustakalaya are:

  1. Persons with print disabilities: They get access to this library through any of the DAISY Forum of India member organization. These individuals are able to log into the website, search for books of their choice uploaded by the registered organizations in the platform. These books are created for special distribution for the print disabled and permitted to be used only by persons with print disabilities.
  1. Organizations producing accessible content: These organizations are able to upload their books collection to the Sugamya Pustakalaya and thereby reach out to print disabled across the country. They also get a robust mechanism for storing their books and maintaining membership and book distribution data.
  2. Organizations serving the print impaired, Universities, schools and libraries: These organizations can take up DAISY Forum of India membership to be able to download books from the Sugamya Pustakalaya for their local members/students. They will be able to provide access to an enormous amount of accessible material like never before.
  3. Publishers: Mainstream publishers can register with DAISY Forum of India and can directly contribute accessible versions of their publications.

These stakeholders are given log in accounts on Sugamya Pustakalaya with different privileges. For example, the content producers can only upload books whereas the persons with print disabilities can only download books. The Sugamya Pustakalaya secretariat supervises the overall process and has the rights to register organizations and publishers.

Anyone can visit the Sugamya Pustakalaya website and check out the collection of books. The user account details are required only when content is to be downloaded.

By

Himanya Chadha

MASS INSTALLATION OF SCREEN READING SOFTWARE PROGRAM

Saksham is organizing a Mega 2- day event with the help of its technical experts, Mass installation of screen reading software program, to support the education and to empower the visually impaired persons. More than 300 visually impaired persons are invited to learn computer through screen reading software, Indo-NVDA with eye-tools and for capacity building. The program will involve installation of the software, training by our experts and hand on experience to the users to boost their confidence.

For further information call us at  011-42411015
Date- 27th and 28th of December.
Venue- Saksham Head Office, New Delhi 

Nitin’s Story- Exploring self.

Nitin is a child with visual impairment since birth. His father is a laborer and mother is a domestic helper. He has 3 brothers and sister. He came to Saksham 4 years ago after having withdrawn from a blind school because of a very bad experience there. As a result, he was emotionally traumatized. He had lost all trust and faith on people and was very afraid of school. He would not communicate with anyone.

It took Nitin quite some time to be able to trust anyone again, to express himself, to communicate with others, to be in a state to learn something new.

Gradually Nitin became comfortable, learned to trust and learned new skills. After an assessment, it was found that Nitin was weak in academics due to weak memory. He showed greater potential in vocational activities like in paper folding, threading, pasting. He could independently make paper envelopes and bags. His threading and beading were neat and perfect. He picked up money transaction skills and is very good at it. He is able to independently do all his daily living activities.

Nitin is very happy now. Since Nitin is 18 years old, an exit plan for him is being formulated.

Saksham will provide him with a mobile kiosk. With the help of his family, he will run a tea stall and sell paper bags and other products of the vocational unit. Initially, Nitin will be trained to run the mobile shop in the vicinity of the school or a controlled environment. Eventually, once he is able to transact the business capably the shop will be moved to the vicinity of his house. The shop will be equipped with utensils, stove, snacks, raw materials etc.

By empowering Nitin with the capacity to earn, Nitin will be valued in his family and society.

Many of such stories are changing our view to look at our life and live it at its best.