Government needs to help with Refreshable Braille Display, says expert – The Hindu


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January 05, 2023 05:25 pm | Updated 05:25 pm IST – Mumbai
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Talking about the importance of Refreshable Braille Display (RBD), a device very useful to the visually impaired, on World Braille Day, Dr. Sam Taraporevala, executive director at Xavier’s Resource Center for the Visually Challenged (XRCVC) says, “There is no help from the government to make it accessible.”
XRCVC is the brainchild of Dr. Taraporevala, who is a renowned name in the field of disability and spoke about the use of technology and advancement today.
“Unlike a few decades ago one was totally dependent on braille, on the mechanical and manual content. To create a braille book, one would have to manually type out the whole book in six keys. Today there is a lot of advancement. A soft copy word document which is decently formatted can be put into a software that does braille conversion. Once the word document is fed in, after pressing translate, a soft copy of braille is ready. One can then put it in a braille embosser,” an equivalent of a printer,” he said.
He added that the main forward movement has been in the area of digitalisation. “Braille is extremely bulky, an A4 sheet is effectively three to five braille pages. A 100-page book will translate into 400 pages in braille. Because it is not flat, it is raised dots. So, the book becomes difficult to transport. Like a laptop, today there are braille note takers like the RBD.”
He explained, “The RBD costs around ₹30,000 but the advantage is its life is four to five years and you can use it as an input device. I, as a blind person, can type on it and it will come out as regular print for anyone and what the other person is reading when fed into my device will be converted to braille. So, there is a two-way communication.”
He said there is only one manufacturer that makes RDB right now and the second one shut down in Mumbai. “There is no help and support from the government. We need a scheme to put these displays in aids and appliances for persons with disability. It needs to go in more hands and the government needs to do it,” said Dr. Taraporevala, also an associate professor and head of the department of Sociology at St. Xavier’s College.
The centre was started in 2003 as an effort to ensure an inclusive environment at the college for its students with blindness and low vision. The XRCVC has today become a national advocacy and support centre for the blind and low-vision across Mumbai and the country, states their website.
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