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App that guides visually impaired to type in Marathi

Mon, 11/25/2019 - 10:51 -- geeta.nair

With an aim to end this practice and to empower and impart a new skill to the visually impaired students, city-based NGO Niwant Andh Mukta Vikasalay has developed a mobile-based application that will teach these students to type in Marathi.

As examination season approaches, one of the most common announcements pasted on school and college notice boards is — “Need volunteers to write exams for the visually impaired”.

With an aim to end this practice and to empower and impart a new skill to the visually impaired students, city-based NGO Niwant Andh Mukta Vikasalay has developed a mobile-based application that will teach these students to type in Marathi.

The app hopes to address the biggest challenge of these students — of finding an appropriate writer or a scribe.

Through games and interactive audio modes, the mobile app ‘Swalekhan’ is now engaging the visually-impaired students to identify appropriate keys to alphabets, rearrange jumbled words and other lessons in typing. Importantly, the app also tells the students the position of cursor, that guides them in the course of typing, thereby allowing them to edit the typed content.
 

Since it was introduced in schools for students right from Class III in July this year, the app has now benefited over 450 students across Pune, Srirampur, Nashik and Aurangabad.

Incidentally, there is only one school for the blind in Maharashtra in English medium, whereas all the other 39 schools have Marathi as their medium of teaching and communication.

“Despite this, typing in Marathi was never introduced to the students, who would then need to depend on writers,” said Uma Badve, whose parents Anand and Meera Badve established the Vikasalay in the early 1990s.

While the state government encourages the visually challenged students to learn in normal schools, there is little support available in any form. For instance, it was approved by the state government that every school appoint a special teacher for the visually-impaired students.

“But, it has not been implemented so far. Starting Class V, the visually challenged students study in normal schools but they are dependent on writers every time they appear for an examination,” Mukteshwar Munshettiwar, joint secretary, National Association for the Blind (NAB), Maharashtra, told The Indian Express.

Three years ago, members of NAB had suggested the Maharashtra State Board for Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE) to conduct computer-based examinations for these students.

“Students who have studied in normal schools are not trained in Braille. This also meant that the paper evaluation had to be sent to Braille experts. In order to address this matter, we had suggested MSBSHSE to instead conduct exams for the visually impaired using computers, but no decision has been made yet,” added Munshettiwar.

In December, the NGO has scheduled workshops for students in Mumbai and Buldhana and hopes to develop similar app for Hindi language. “Our idea is to reach out to as many students as possible and introducing Hindi typing will be our next endeavour,” added Uma Badve.
Source: https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/app-that-guides-visually-impaired-to-type-in-marathi/

Category: 
Month of Issue: 
November
Year of Issue: 
2 019
Source: 
https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/app-that-guides-visually-impaired-to-type-in-marathi/
Place: 
Maharashtra
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National

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