Digitally Yours: Breaking the Visual Barrier

Several visually impaired individuals have broken the technological barrier and use smartphones and digital technology as efficiently as the rest of us

Published: 14th October 2015 04:05 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th October 2015 05:19 AM   |  A+A-

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With the fast-paced world of the Internet taking over the lives of urban Indians, every minute activity of our everyday lives has a digital influence hovering over it.

In fact, technology has transcended all boundaries, barriers and even handicaps. Even the visually impaired have grown adept at using and are getting used to smartphones and even use applications like Email and Skype.

visual1.jpgTake for example, the case of 30-year-old Muthu Selvi, a visually impaired lady from Chennai. Selvi is a delegate at the ongoing All India Confederation of the Blind (AICB)’s National Conference and was seen busy attending telephone calls on her Samsung Duos, using Whatsapp, checking her emails. Take one look at her and the way she handles technology and it is almost impossible to believe that she is blind.

“I am very comfortable using a smartphone. I send and receive text and WhatsApp messages,” she says.

Role of Technology in Higher Education for Blind was a major topic of  being discussed at the AICB’s National Conference, which concluded in the city on Tuesday.

“Blind must be trained in adapting modern technology and technological devices, gadgets and gizmos. This will increase their efficiency. By using this they will access to the latest information. They will have access to material on the net.  Otherwise they lag behind.  Take for instance, Muthu Selvi, reads e-newspapers with ease.  She keeps herself abreast with current affairs and knowledge related to her banking job,” said JL Kaul, General Secretary, AICB.

“Mobile phones made sea change in the lives of  the visually impaired.  Earlier their mobility was restricted,  they used to depend on others earlier.  Today they are on their own,” Kaul added.

visual2.jpgEchoing his views, P Chokka Rao, General Secretary of Development & Welfare Association of the Blind(DWAB) in Telangana, said that things have undergone tremendous change and the blind are also becoming more tech savvy.  “DWAB is fighting with local government to have atleast one English Medium School for blind in every district of the Telangana. Learning English will help blind to adapt to technology quickly,” he said.

Selvi is not the only visually challenged individual adept at technology and there were plenty of others present at the conference.

Habeeb C, is a visually challenged person, who is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Farook  Collage, affliated to University of Calicut in Kerala.

 “I have been using computer for the past 12 years.  This computer was gifted to me by an NGO.  I use smartphone with ease with the help of ‘Screen Reader’ application which reads what is on the screen. I also take help of OCR(Optical Character Recognition) Software, which scans and reads text for you,” he shares.

Habeeb also runs a group, which is a forum of Kerala Federation of the Blind Youth. The group has 400 members and helps visually impaired people to connect with each other.

“Whatever the sighted people are doing we can also do the same. Except for  a few things which can be understood only by seeing, we do the rest of the things ourselves,” he said, firmly.

Kusum Gajarnal is another law graduate who has been working with Telephone Exchange in Mumbai for the past 25 years. She is also at ease with using modern gadgets and gizmos. “Blindness never came in between  using and adapting modern technology,” she said.

Muthu Selvi, Habeeb, Kusum and many such tech savvy visually impaired were among the 200 delegates from across the country, who were in the city to participate in AICB’s Three Day National Conference, which was held for the first time in South India at Ravindra Bharathi in Hyderabad.

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