“If visually impaired children cannot go to school, let the school go to them,” is at the heart of a novel initiative coordinated by a young volunteer at the organisation Braille without Borders, Tiffany Maria Brar, in collaboration with another city-based social enterprise, Kanthari.
‘Jyothirgamaya,’ envisaged to bring learning to the doorstep of these children, has been conceived by N. Krishnaswamy, chairman of the Chennai-based Vidya Vrikshah, to address the lack of facilities for the visually impaired in regular schools.
Twenty-four-year-old Tiffany, who is visually challenged herself, took up this idea and brought to life the first of its kind mobile blind school in the State. Paul Kronenberg, who along with Sabriye Tenberken, founded Braille Without Borders in 1998 in Lhasa, Tibet, said it was the first step to providing education and spreading literacy among the visually impaired children who cannot benefit from regular classes.
“We hope, in time, schools will incorporate facilities that would aid visually impaired children,” said Mr. Kronenberg. As of now, there is no government assistance for the project. With soaring fuel prices, the expenditure would run high and financial aid is required, he said.
While most children go to school, many fail to develop skills and are largely neglected. This led to the birth of a mobile school that will reach out to the visually challenged children in the city and subsequently branch out to the outskirts and rural areas where many such children do not even attend school.
Being confined to their homes, these children do not have mobility skills, thus hampering their scope to engage in any sort of activities. Mr. Kronenberg said apart from providing the universal Braille kit, the three-wheeler school would teach “daily living skills, basic cooking” and other activities.
The mobile blind school is a three-wheeler vehicle equipped with a computer and printer facility powered by solar energy. It contains a Universal Braille kit, aiming to engage parents as well. The children will be taught English, Hindi, Malayalam Braille and other basic life skills that they do not acquire at school due to lack of attention given to these children.
“We will be conducting the workshop only during weekends as many children go to school and we do not want to tamper with their schedule,” said the administrative manager of Kanthari, Ajith Kumar. The vehicle will be flagged off on Monday at the Kanthari Campus in Vellayani.
Minister for Panchayat and Social Welfare M.K. Muneer and Minister for Labour and Rehabilitation Shibu Baby John will be present at the inaugural function.