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Coronavirus | Despite pandemic, Braille printing press in Berhampur busy with work

Work is on to get textbooks of economics and history converted into Braille format. Photo: File

Work is on to get textbooks of economics and history converted into Braille format. Photo: File  

Efforts are on to provide Braille textbooks to visually challenged Class XI students in the coming academic year.

While COVID-19 has hit education around the world, Odisha’s only Braille printing press in Berhampur is busy in its efforts to provide Braille textbooks to visually challenged Class XI students in the coming academic year.

Printing of Braille textbooks for +2 or higher secondary course has been taken up for the first time in the State. It was, till now, only printing textbooks up to Class X. Braille textbooks are not available for visually impaired higher secondary students in Odisha.

So, the ‘Red Cross Computerised Braille Braille Press’ in Berhampur had decided to start printing textbooks for Class XI in 2020 and to add up Braille books for XII the next year.

Most visually impaired students in Odisha, after passing Class X, prefer admission to the Arts stream for higher secondary education. These students had to depend on others to read out textbooks to them, and on Braille notes made by their seniors. “There were requests from different parts of the State for Braille textbooks of higher secondary classes of Arts stream. So, the Braille press decided to print books of Class XI Arts course first,” said manager, Prakash Narayan Rath.

Data entry work

Despite the lockdown, data entry work for these textbooks in Braille form is continuing. Mr. Rath and a Braille data entry operator, Chimayee Rath, are now busy transforming the +2 first year or Class XI textbooks into Braille format on computers. “We plan to print and provide Braille textbooks of Odia, English, political science, economics and history subjects by the start of next academic session” said Mr. Rath.

Braille data entry of Odia, English, history, political science textbooks is complete. Work is on to get textbooks of economics and history converted into Braille format.

Funds sought

These books are to be distributed free to students. So, the Braille press authorities have requested the Director-cum-Special Secretary of Social Security and Empowerment of Persons with Disability (SSEPD) to provide funds for printing and free distribution of text books.

A new, faster Braille master platemaker, imported from Germany at a cost of ₹1.12 crore and installed at this press in November 2019, will enable easy and fast printing. During its inauguration, Odisha Minister for SSEPD department Ashok Chandra Panda had promised for printing of higher secondary textbooks in Braille for free distribution.

Also, this press has formatted ‘Galpa Swalpa’, authored by great Odia writer Fakir Mohan Senapati, into Braille form. It will be the first Odia short story collection in Braille format.

This Braille press was established in Berhampur in 1986 by the Red Cross Society, with a printing unit procured from a West German firm. In 2013, two new, modern computerised Braille printing units were imported from Belgium for modernisation.

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 3:55:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/coronavirus-despite-pandemic-braille-printing-press-in-berhampur-busy-with-work/article31201644.ece

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