Good books in narrated audio and hard-copy braille for visually impaired learners in India

In Pune, India, schools have re-opened and students once again can access the reading tools and materials provided by the Bookshare Project. Research has found that giving primary school students access to an abundance of high-interest books and encouragement to read from trained teachers leads a to significant increase in early grade reading skills. However, in many countries, students who are visually impaired or have other print disabilities face formidable barriers as they pursue their education without access to appropriate materials. Less than 1% of printed materials are created in accessible formats such as braille or audio books. Even when a child does receive an accessible text, it is usually provided in only one format – either braille or audio. In countries with several regional languages, such as India, even when children with print disabilities do receive an accessible text, it is the bare minimum needed to participate in class. Few reading materials, if any, are provided to help strengthen their learning outside the classroom, and they have few opportunities to complement their braille learning with other modes, such as audio.

Bookshare offers age-appropriate, high-interest books in Marathi in both human-narrated audio and hard-copy braille to students in four schools for the blind in Maharashtra. It is implemented by Beneficent Technologies (Benetech) with funding from All Children Reading (ACR): A Grand Challenge for Development. URC provides the project with technical assistance in monitoring and evaluation.

Read more about the project here.

Fingers of a blind boy read the braille version of Convention on the Rights of the Child at a blind boys' school, Ramakrishna Mission, in Kolkata, West Bengal, India. © 2009 Anil Gulati, Courtesy of Photoshare
A blind boy reads braille. India, © 2009 Anil Gulati, Courtesy of Photoshare
October 05, 2016