HYDERABAD: Everyday, close to 50 visually-challenged students of the University of Hyderabad find it a task to navigate between hostels and school or other points on the 1,700-acre campus. At times, failing to find their way, students return to their rooms and miss classes or leave important work unattended.
Though vision remains a problem, their auditory skills are sharp. Based on the trait, an alumnus and a current student of the university are testing the use of wind chimes to help the students commute within the campus without much difficulty.
As part of the project which is underway, the chimes (with aluminium tubes of equal length and diameter) are suspended using paint rollers at important junctions, buildings and other points on the sprawling campus.
When wind hits the chimes or somebody nudges the tubes, they give out distinct sounds. The frequency of the sounds is hoped to help visually-challenged students recognise the junction or place they have reached, and move further if need be.
Dr Kavita Vemuri, a member of the faculty at International Institute of Information Technology-Hyderabad (IIIT-H), who conceived the idea, said that she wanted to see how visually-challenged students can be helped move around the campus and wanted to use music for the purpose.
An alumnus of UoH, her area of work, Cognitive Neuro-sciences and Assisted System, deals with helping people with disabilities lead a normal life.
“An important feature of the visually-challenged is their auditory skill. We wanted to come up with something which requires low maintenance,” she explained.
Reports during online search stated that the chimes concept was tested by a student of Texas A&M University and a student of San Francisco State University in the USA.
On the huge campus of UoH, where buildings are separated by long distances, visually-challenged students and others are seen walking hand in hand in groups, to go to their destinations.
“One such student started for the school from her hostel, a distance of half a kilometre. She wanted to go alone but returned after going half way as she could not grope her way further. When I told her about the project, she said it would work,” said Surya Abhishek Singaraju (21), a final-year ImSc (Physics) student of UoH, who is doing research under the guidance of Dr Kavita.
He said the goal of the project is to create a sound-based path system. “At important junctions and places on the campus, such as near library and shopping complex, we placed chimes. Going by the frequency of sound, they would be able to identify the place they are at,” Abhishek said.
Ingenious in their efforts, the instruments are hung using paint-rollers as binding wires do not hold for long.
The physics students said the project needs improvisation and they are consulting blind students and professors for a feedback. He invited suggestions for making the instruments to last long and perform better.