Oct 2, 2009
Enable India is a Bangalore-based NGO that works with disabled people, mentoring them and helping them find employment. Students from the Amrita School of Engineering at Bangalore recently had an opportunity to volunteer for this NGO — they helped prepared tactile diagrams to be used as learning tools by visually impaired people.
Tactile diagrams translate images into a tactile language. Thanks to efforts of NGOs like Enable India, BPO and medical transcription companies are now more open to hiring visually impaired people to perform simple, routine tasks. But one requirement is that those hired have some basic familiarity with computers. NGOs provide this training to them and use tactile diagrams extensively for this.
Subhashini Govindarajan graduated recently from Amrita’s Bangalore campus with a dual degree, MBA-MS. Now employed at Tesco, Subhashini returned to her alma mater, when Enable India requested her to help make tactile diagrams. Subhashini volunteers with them in her spare time and was very happy with the overwhelming response she received from the students. “Several of them got together in the evenings and the weekend to help make the tactile diagrams,” she stated.
First the students prepared a tactile diagram for a desktop screen. Computer desktop icons were replicated on a cardboard with icons that were cut in the shape of squares. A Braille machine was used to punch and accordingly cut out the icon display name. Printouts of the computer icons were then cut according to size and stuck on the card board. On the first day, the students prepared nearly 35 tactile diagrams. Sandesh, a trainer from Enable India, and himself visually impaired, helped validate these diagrams.
“After reworking the diagrams that had errors, we started with a new set of diagrams for the Start menu,” further shared Subhashini. “Enable India wanted to hand over the diagrams to a batch of visually impaired students who they were training, and our students even volunteered extra time to help complete the diagrams on time.”
Subhashini invited the students to also help out at Enable India by reading books and teaching during weekends.
“Come … Join … Be the change you want to see in the world,” she told them. “I believe it is our collective energies that can produce marvelous results.”