Volume 4 Issue 2 - January 15, 2006

India’s visually impaired highlight Government’s apathy on World Braille Day

D.N.I.S. News Network- India has the worlds largest population of visually impaired people, yet their access to even the most basic tool to their empowerment, Braille, is largely absent due lack of political will on the part of the Government.

This fact came to the fore on 4 January 2005 when the World Braille Day was observed to mark the birth anniversary of Louis Braille -- the inventor of six magic dots that revolutionised the lives of blind people across the world.

In the National Capital, civil society organisations and associations of visually impaired people joined hands in drawing the Governments focus on the need for training and providing Braille texts to school children.

A glaring example of the sorry state of affairs in the Delhi Governments failure in providing Braille textbooks for students from class one to eight. Over 2,500 blind students are studying in special schools for blind and mainstream schools in the Capital. This despite the National Human Rights Commissions intervention in the matter and a recent Delhi High Court order directing the Delhi Government to provide books in Braille.

Another issue that was highlighted is the myth that the language has become redundant due to emergence of speech synthesizers and screen reader software. This is nothing short of stifling the most reliable means of educating a blind person. In the so-called normal world this would be akin to saying that children should not be taught writing and reading alphabets due to availability of word processors.

Several studies have shown that people who are blind and know Braille are far more likely to be employed than those who rely only on voice synthesizers. Although technological advances now provide people who are blind with additional workplace tools in the same way as technology has enhanced the efficiency of sighted people.

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