A Facebook group ‘BanglaBraille’ has become a ray of hope for thousands of visually challenged students who are yet to receive Braille books in schools.
The initiative of the members--settled in Bangladesh and abroad—comes after a bdnews24.com report ‘Braille books yet to reach schools’ on Jun 25.
The report said that the usual sufferings of these children rose to new heights after the education board had introduced 104 new books from this year.
Ragib Hasan, an Assistant Professor of Computer Science department in University of Alabama at Birmingham, came up with the noble idea after coming across the article.
“At first I spoke to Muhammad Zafar Iqbal sir (in Bangladesh) about it and then created the group in Facebook. The group hit 400 members on that very day,” he told bdnews24.com.
Currently, some 2,000 volunteers were converting the textbook matter to Unicode, he said. “Then it will be printed at Professor Zafar Iqbal’s Braille Printer.”
“Though the project began just a few days ago, enthusiastic volunteers are surging ahead. Some 12 books are almost already for print. Now they are being proof-read.”
Ragib Hasan hoped that the rest of the textbooks for class one to ten would be converted to Unicode within two weeks.
The group is also working at an ‘Audio Book Project’. Since it will take time for the Braille books to be printed, we have decided to come up in the meantime with audio version.
“Our volunteers are reading out the books, recording them, and uploading the files online. Guardians can download those files until they can get the Braille books,” Ragib said.
The audio project began with the science book of class five, which Ragib Hasan himself is recording.
Works of some 25 books have begun. Their complete or incomplete audio versions are available at ‘Shikkhok.com’, he said.
“Since it takes less effort and time, we got a good response for the audio project. Many people have volunteered.”
Simultaneously, efforts are on for fund collection to alleviate the problem, he said.
“An average quality Braille printer costs $80,000. Printing each page costs Tk 16. Some expatriate Bangladeshis have come forward to help, which is very promising.”
Though some government-run schools get few Braille textbooks, there are no such facilities at the private schools.
Ragib has called upon all to come forward in his Facebook status which read “… very little effort can change the world of hundreds of thousands of children.”
Professor Muhammad Zafar Iqbal was with this project from the very beginning.
“This is a very generous initiative. People responded overwhelmingly in a short time. I hope this will lead to a permanent solution for the visually challenged children,” he told bdnews24.com.