The digital accessible information system (DAISY) initiative of the Cuttack district administration, bringing talking text books to the reach of visually challenged students as well as children with special needs (CWSN), is set to cover the entire spectrum of school education by the end of this year.
The administration, through the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, has already launched text books in DAISY format for Class V to IX and work on converting the Class X study materials has commenced. The work would be completed within next three months.
“It would not only be a major milestone in universalisation of education but also ensure equal opportunities of learning to the visually challenged students, who have been deprived of education customised to their special needs. Already over 180 students in Cuttack district as well as 52 special schools for the blind are benefiting from the talking books from Class V to IX,” Collector Girish SN said.
The first-of-its-kind initiative in the State assumes importance as Odisha ranks very high on prevalence of blindness in the population. Even though one per cent of the population suffers from visual impairment, not much effort has been made to facilitate learning and development tools like Braille books for them.
The State faces an acute shortage of Braille literature, thereby excluding the visually challenged from empowerment.
The DAISY platform provides a complete audio substitute for print, specifically designed for people with blindness and impaired vision, dyslexia, cerebral palsy and even elderly people. It infuses advanced features besides MP3 and XML formats to enable user-based searches, placing of bookmarks, line by line navigation and regulation of speaking speed. It also provides aurally accessible tables and references.
“The books have been customised by additional inputs from expert teachers on each subject. Care has been taken that teachers not merely render voice but also elaborate and explain difficult points in the text,” Girish said.
The administration has intimated all the SSA project coordinators of all the districts on the availability of talking books covering all subjects from Class V to X. The districts can obtain the books and distribute them among the students along with providing them to schools and libraries.