The demand for Braille textbooks, printed at the regional centre of the National Institute for the Visually Handicapped (NIVH) in suburban Poonamallee, is yet to increase this academic year.
“The modern printing facility that was recently set up with imported machines from Norway is capable of printing five lakh Braille copies per month. But the demand for Braille text books is much less. Only about 330 Braille text books have been sold so far in 2010-2011 and two books have been distributed free of cost,” said I. Arivanandham, Regional Director (incharge) of NIVH.
The main reason is the lack of awareness among the teachers on the importance of Braille for persons with visual disability, he added.
“A Braille enrichment project to train teachers on Braille will be implemented by the Institute shortly,” said Dr. Arivanandham.
A total of 10 schools for those with visual disability are run by the State government and there are 10 more such private schools in the State. Children with visual disability are also admitted to other schools.
But many of the teachers are not able to teach the content in Braille to such students.
“Braille has empowered us to read and write and be independent,” said M. Gopalakrishnan, a person with visual disability and a trainer at NIVH. “Nothing else can make us think and enable us to acquire knowledge and communication skills,” he added.
“Not given importance”
“Education, acquired with Braille, has developed our personality. But Braille is not given importance by teachers nowadays,” said Mr. Gopalakrishnan.
Over 30 text books for school children of Class I to XII are already available at the Braille Press in the Institute. The work on converting the soft copies of other textbooks into Braille copies is on.
K. Parvathy, one of the proof readers working on the copies at the press said: “We do proofreading for 45 pages a day.”
“Describing a pictorial representation in the original text book in Braille is challenging. But it also gives minute details to aid learning,” she said.
K. Amalraj, another proof reader, said that the transcription of the content of Samacheer Kalvi textbooks into Braille required lot of effort. Officials of NIVH stressed the need for steps by schools to popularize Braille. “The textbooks for class I to VI are free and others are heavily subsidised by the government,” an official said.
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