With the closure of the printing press at the Government Higher Secondary School for the Blind in Poonamallee, visually challenged students have difficulty in accessing Braille textbooks. Sometimes, a class of students has to make do with just one faded Braille textbook.
President of All India Louis Braille Association of the Blind S. Murugesan complained that neglect and lack of funds rendered the Braille Press defunct. “Vacancies at the press had not been filled. Until the early 1990s, Braille textbooks were available but now it is difficult to get them.”
Efforts must be made to train teachers who teach the students to use computers, he says. “Teachers have been trained in Braille. As an alternative, if they were to teach using the audio software, the teachers should be proficient in using computers,” he adds.
Nethrodaya founder C. Govindakrishnan suggests that the government could provide textbooks in CD form for students of all classes. “Some classes have only one Braille book and the dots fade on repeated use. The argument is that students will not use Braille if we provide the textbooks in CD. The CDs are compact and serve the purpose, whereas printed Braille text is voluminous and printing them is also expensive,” he says.
“Things have changed now. Congenital blindness is on the wane owing to government efforts but adult blindness is growing. We do not have teachers to teach Braille to adults. The government could also provide exclusive libraries for the visually challenged,” he adds.
“We are ready to do it for any class, provided parents seek out NGOs,” says Mr. Murugesan.
District Rehabilitation officials and Commissioner for the Disabled C. Vijay Raj Kumar say no one has yet made a representation to them to provide textbooks in CD form to the students and create an exclusive library for them. “We will consider their request if they make a representation. We could have a discussion with the organisations as to when the audio textbooks can be introduced. As the students require some skills to operate the CDs, we might consider introducing them for children from class VI or VII,” the Commissioner for the Disabled said.