Building Technical Infrastructure For The Differently Abled And Visually Impaired

Strong Technical Infrastructure or The Differently Abled and Technology Vision for the visually impaired.

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Traditional education methods are now becoming off the league with changing scenarios due to COVID-19. Online education is now the new normal for every single student with COVID-19 creating havoc and disrupting the usual patterns of education. Considering this new normal, various policies and changes have been initiated even by the Government to incorporate skill education and easy entry and exit points in the education system. However, the digital infrastructure that prevails already has not been utilised for the betterment of the careers of those who are physically impaired or differently-abled. However, EdTech is the new systemised education platform that can be developed and utilised for not just those from the mainstream but also those who are differently-abled. EdTech has been fruitful especially for those who are visually impaired. 

WHO indicated that the globally visually impaired is estimated to be 285 million, out of which 39 million are sightless. Aatmanirbhar Bharat has been another extension of liberalising the visually impaired under which various schemes and innovations have come into being. These have been either in the form of applications or technologies utilised to enrich the experience of the differently-abled towards being educated. Some innovations listed have been helping those who are visually impaired successfully. 

  1. Roshni – developed an app by students of IIM that helps the visually impaired recognize old and new currency notes, using image processing and analytics.
  2. JAWS is a computer screen reader program for Microsoft Windows that allows blind and visually impaired users to read the screen with a text-to-speech output or a refreshable Braille display.
  3. The eye in AI is an app to help people who are visually impaired or with low vision
  4. Electric Vehicles Some manufacturers are already incorporating artificial noise into their electric vehicles.
  5. Be My Eyes is a free app that connects blind and low vision people with sighted volunteers and company representatives for visual assistance through a live video call
  6. Smart Glasses working on the development of a set of smart glasses that can use AI to read, provide navigation information and potentially identify faces. Glasses are connected to a smartphone through a processing unit, without an internet connection and allow it to function.
  7. Bluetooth beacons, act like highly precise, personalized guides for people who are blind or partially sighted. While basic GPS technology can take users to a location, beacons mounted in a store, restaurant or public building can guide them to the entrance of the building in question.
  8. Braille: This has been used for decades as a tactile way of reading with fingertips. It has now jumped from the page to the screen with the updated version of Narrator, the screen-reader for Microsoft Windows, supporting digital Braille displays and keyboards and many more.

Digitization has reduced the social divide and moved society towards social inclusion where every individual has a right to be educated. The Indian government including educational institutes in collaborative efforts have invested heavily to break the social divide by implementing various policies for those who are differently-abled to incorporate them in the mainstream society. Digital India's campaign is ending the digital divide where every village now has an internet facility connecting multiple schools and colleges through E-Education platforms. Students have been enriched through digital libraries that can be accessed and be read. However, infrastructure still needs to be strengthened with the involvement of conglomerates and foreign companies who are looking for investment in India. Companies from other countries must be allowed to allocate their funds to build institutions and strengthen and build a robust education infrastructure. This would be beneficial to reach out to those isolated due to not having literacy or due to the distance. 

As per the latest Education Policy, children with disabilities will be allowed to be a part of regular schooling right from kindergarten to higher education. Students with disabilities shall receive extra care with necessary infrastructure, suitable technological interventions to ensure access can be particularly effective for certain children with disabilities. Also, a new national assessment centre PRAKASH, a very smart digital examination platform will formulate Guidelines for conducting student assessment to make it feasible and to ensure equitable access and opportunities for all the students even with disabilities. 

Every person including the disabled or of any caste or being transgender has his life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. Humans are not only limited to being human but there must also be emotion and improvement in being human and serve Humanity. There cannot be any traffic in human beings. Though Life being disabled has its ups and downs, so do other people have. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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