[AI] Fw: India: Computer course for hearing and visually impaired.

Pradeep banakar pradeep_banakar at yahoo.co.in
Fri Aug 17 21:08:05 EDT 2007

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "BlindNews Mailing List" <blindnews at blindprogramming.com>
To: "Blind News" <BlindNews at blindprogramming.com>
Sent: Wednesday, August 15, 2007 11:34 AM
Subject: India: Computer course for hearing and visually impaired.

Computer course for hearing and visually impaired.

Helen Keller Institute offers course in communication skills, software
programming and Internet

Jinal Shah

Mumbai, August 13: The Helen Keller Institute For The Deaf And Deaf-blind
(HKIDB) will soon come up with a full-fledged 3-semester course in computers
by early November.

"Until now, communication skills were taught the old-fashioned way using
books or charts in Braille. Today, computers have become an important part
of the educational process at the institute," explains Beroz Vacha, founder
and director, HKIDB.

Vacha and along with the institute's dedicated team of teachers will now
open doors to students across the continent. "Dually-impaired students from
across the country and also from elsewhere in Asia are welcome for the
course," said Ram Agarwal, technical advisor, HKIDB.

An integral function of the Helen Keller Institute is the Computerised Mini
Braille Press. Set up in January 2002, it is a pioneering project which
teaches the specially-challenged children to use computers and undertake
computer-related programming and designing.

This computer training unit-cum-mini Braille press produces a variety of
materials to suit the needs of deaf-blind, blind, low vision and
hearing-impaired individuals.

With its current capacity of 10 monitors, the course will start on a
'one-to-one' teaching basis. Students aged 14 onwards, having a basic
knowledge of typewriting-taught at the Helen Keller Institute at Mahape-will
be trained in this system.

"They will be taught to work on normal keyboards. They can feel whatever
appears on the screen on a 'focus Braille' attached to the monitor and
errors can be corrected through Braille," said Agarwal.

The course syllabus will have communication skills, office applications, and
internet surfing. Those graduating from the course will be encouraged to
coach other students as there is a serious dearth of teachers in India. They
will also be equipped to set up private Braille transcription centres.

The experiment was a success with two students-Pradeep Sinha(29) and Zamir
Bhale (32)-passing their SSC exams through National Institute of Open
Schooling (NIOS) in 2003. Today Zamir, working with an NGO, is an advocacy
officer of deaf-blind and earns a handsome Rs 12,000 per month whereas
Pradeep is assisting his teachers take classes for other special students.

"We are looking for accreditation from the Rehabilitation Council of India
as they have recognised MSCIT (Master of Science in Computer Information
Technology) course for the blind alone," added Agarwal.

According to the official figures there are 4,50,000 dual-sensory impaired
students, and students having associated disabilities in India and only 37
organisations in 19 states to teach basic communication skills.

The idea is to break the barriers of communication.However another barrier
that they will have to overcome is the lack of funds from the government.
"If education has been made compulsory under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan for
normal students, why not for the deaf-blind?" asked Agarwal.

Blind-user friendly materials like maps given out by several
government-recognised Non-government Organisations (NGOs) actually do not
serve the purpose. "There is no uneven surface for rivers in the map, only
mountains are highlighted also the Indian boarder is in plain black ink and
the whole thing costs the institute Rs 2500. Even the medicines do not have
a brailled name, price and expiry date," said Vacha.

On Saturday the union minister for social justice and empowerment Meira
Kumar visited the institute and promised to provide them with the necessary
basic facilities.

© 2007: Indian Express Newspapers (Mumbai) Ltd.


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