Very rarely do any of us think of the problems faced by the visually impaired community. A serious dilemma for blind students today is the unavailability of Braille books after the 10th grade. In Karnataka braille books are printed only from the 1st grade to SSLC.
Visually impaired myself, I did have problems when I was studying way back in 2005, and speaking to students, we realized nothing has changed much, we had to use audio CDs and make our notes, in the absence of braille books…
I visited three libraries for the visually impaired in Bangalore and was surprised to know that although general books on different topic are available in all three, there are hardly any textbooks for PUC and degree college students. Mitrajyoti provides academic audio books but the students commented that these are very problematic and not as easy to use as books. At NFE, two of the library staff said that they had the same problem back when they were students. 500 students are part of the library but only general books in Hindi, Kannada and English were available. Sahana Charitable Trust, which has a membership of 2600 blind students said that the government is yet to make any provisions or schemes for printing Braille books. The cost of printing these books is high as they require special techniques and are bigger than the average book.
Mr. Amarnath, the public information officer at Senior Citizen and Differently Abled Empowerment office gave me the full information on the matter. There is only one printing press for Braille books which is in Mysore. Due to many technical problems and unavailability of technicians, the printing takes too much time. This is main reason that for the last 15 years, school textbooks only till SSLC are being printed there. Every year, about 2000 visually impaired students from four government and 25 private schools manage to complete 10th grade but have no options but to depend on audio texts or quit school due to the lack of braille books.
Tune in to Radio Active: Aashitaru 2.00pm to 2.30pm and listen to Mahesh, Veeresh, Guru, Bhagyashree and Shivkumar share their problems, as students. Also on the show are Mr. Narsimha, Mr. Mahesh and Mr. Mohan- from NFE and Sahana Charitable Trust, who will tell us about the condition of libraries and the reasons behind the problem.
What is the way forward? Is there a budget for Braille press?Why hasn’t this been put into action for so long? How do these students manage? Share your stories and tune in for more updates
– M Jaydeva ( Transcribed by Indirani Bhardwaj)