Three Rotarians — Jayaram Mendon, Radhika Bhondve and President Anindya Dasgupta — from RC Thane Hills, D 3142, have developed a mechanism for the visually impaired to work on a computer, without using the Braille keyboard.
“We want to deviate from the Braille keyboard and make the normal keyboard accessible for the blind so as to increase their possibilities of getting a job,” says Dasgupta.
Thus, evolved the ‘Virtual Eye,’ with Mendon, “the IT guy” integrating various software. He combined a talking software that provides the audio input; a software that guides the student as he uses the keyboard; a magnifier software that increases the size of the image to assist partially blind students; a camera that scans documents and an optical character recognition software.
The pilot was conducted at the Pragati Andh Vidyalay at Badlapur in Thane District where visually challenged students tried it successfully. “We also trained the teachers to work on it,” says club Secretary Sunil Gwalani. It was officially launched in mid-October in the presence of PRIDs Ashok Mahajan and Shekhar Mehta, and CSR heads from various organisations.
The Virtual Eye kit costs Rs 2 lakh and can work on three computers. There are about 400 schools for the blind in India and Rotarians could help such schools with this technology, says Dasgupta. His team can train the teachers. PRID Shekhar Mehta said he would include this in the RILM to increase employment opportunities for the blind.
The State Bank of India has offered to sponsor Virtual Eye in 100 schools and Johnson and Johnson, US, has also evinced interest.