Simply Reading App- An Application for Print-Disabled and Visually Impaired

Dependence on others for reading and writing is one of the biggest hurdles in way of education, employment and leading an independent life, especially in case of people living with visual disabilities and low vision.  To empower the persons with visual disabilities, the DAISY Consortium (a network of not for profit organizations from 55 countries) has developed the “Simply Reading” app as part of Standard Chartered Bank’s global Seeing is Believing initiative to tackle avoidable (preventable or treatable) blindness. The App is based on the cost-effective and flexible Android platform which aims to unlock digital reading for people who struggle with existing, more complex touchscreen solutions.  It is the only Android application in India for reading books which connects to online accessible libraries and allows books to be read on connected Braille display and in all major Indian languages.

 

Available for free on Android (Google Play), this app enables the visually impaired to directly download and read books from any online platform such as Sugamya Pustakalya and Bookshare.

The app was launched during the Simply Reading Without Seeing Seminar held on 2 May at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi by Shri Jagmohan, former governor of Jammu and Kashmir and former LG of Delhi.  On the occasion of the launch, Mr. Jagmohan released an accessible copy of his book “My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir” on Sugamya Pustakalaya and readable on the Simply Reading app.

Saksham along with its partner organizations has been involved in several projects to provide a holistic affordable reading and writing solution for in Indian languages. Outcomes of these projects such as the Indo-NVDA screen reading software, DAISY players in all Indian languages, affordable Braille displays, and the dictation software were also demonstrated.

The organization is working wholeheartedly to introduce more such applications and devices so that persons with visual impairment could contribute their part in the country’s growth story.

 

Advertisement

What’s Print Disability?

Print disability is a condition related to blindness, visual impairment, specific learning disability or other physical condition in which the student needs an alternative or specialized format (i.e., Braille, Large Print, Audio, Digital text) in order to access and gain information from conventional printed materials. Print disability is easiest to understand when considering how the student interacts with printed materials. Print disability is not a new disability classification but refers to the functional ability of a student with a disability such as blindness, low vision, learning disabilities or physical disabilities. It commonly affects students with blindness, visual impairments, learning disabilities or physical conditions that make it difficult to hold a book or turn a page. In comparison to visual and physical disabilities, learning-based print disabilities are not visible. They must be identified by qualified professionals (e.g., teachers, resource teachers, speech-language pathologists) who have expertise in understanding and assessing reading development, and can provide appropriate interventions and remediation. If a student has a learning-based print disability, he or she may demonstrate the following challenges:

  • Difficulty with decoding words
  • Slow, effortful reading
  • Poor comprehension because so much effort goes into decoding text
  • Difficulty in accessing content
  • Lack of independence, self-esteem, confidence, and choice
  • Lack of exposure to text which negatively impacts growth of vocabulary and language

The challenges can have different roots, such as dyslexia, visual tracking issues, phonemic awareness, or others. They may be related to a language disorder or, may be more specifically rooted in reading itself. No matter the cause(s), the problems become worse over time when students are not provided with appropriate interventions. Students need to be assessed one-on-one to determine if an alternate format with assistive technology (such as e-text with text-to-speech) will help to bypass the problem. Many of these students enter into a vicious cycle of withdrawal from text. Frustrated, they often stop reading, losing the text exposure necessary for reading development and, ultimately, for the acquisition of knowledge and understanding in all subjects.

However, with certain level of patience and guidance, these students can be provided sufficient help to read and write efficiently.

By

Upasana Nagar

 

 

Common sports for visually impaired users

Being diagnosed as blind or partially sighted does not mean that the person has to give up on his favorite sports altogether. In fact, there are many sports which have been adapted for those who are blind or partially sighted, as well as entirely new sports only open to people with a sight condition. With that in mind here are the following sports that can be played by visually impaired.

 Football: Football is still fully accessible and there are many sports clubs and schools all over the country who field competitive teams. It can be played either indoors or outdoors, using an audible ball and standard five-a-side goals. British Blind Sport (BBS) organizes national competitions for both partially sighted and totally blind teams.

 Golf: Golfing for the blind and partially sighted has been one of the more popular sports over recent years. All blind golfers are assisted by a sighted guide who ensures the club head is correctly positioned behind the ball, provides a description of the hole and the distance to hit the shot. The handicapping system for blind golfers also allows for full competition between blind and sighted golfers. There are separate organizations that organize golf for the blind and partially sighted.

Tandem Cycling: Tandem cycling has been rapidly increasing in popularity following the home nation’s success in the Commonwealth Games this year and can be pursued recreationally or as a competitive sport. There are a number of clubs and organizations in the UK for blind and partially sighted people who organize such games.

Table Tennis: Table Tennis has been described as one of the easier sports to adapt to following a loss in sight. For many partially sighted people, table tennis can be played without any need for specialist equipment or modification to the rules.

Swimming: Many swimming pools welcome swimmers with sight loss during public sessions, and will also provide special sessions for organized groups. As swimming for the blind and partially sighted becomes more and more popular there is an increasing number of regional, national and international competitions held every year. British Blind Sport (BBS) hold a swimming gala annually for people of all ages.

Mountaineering: Rock climbing and mountaineering are very physically demanded sports and are quite the step up from rambling. A number of blind and partially sighted people take part in this sport with the help of sighted instructors and leaders.

Goalball: Goalball is another game designed specifically with the blind and partially sighted in mind and over recent years has been growing hugely in popularity with both men’s and women’s annual national competitions and involvement at international and Paralympic level. The game is played indoors on a rectangular “pitch” that has dimensions corresponding to a volleyball court. The goal posts are positioned on each team’s baseline; a heavy audible ball is used.

Archery: This is another sport which has been successfully adapted for the blind and partially sighted audience. The equipment required is the same for fully sighted archers but there are a number of extra aids available if necessary. These vary but those commonly used are a block and board for positioning the feet and a vertical stand which grips an adjustable horizontal point of flexible material, for example, paint brush bristles for guiding the position of the hand of the forward aiming arm. Electronic aiming aids have also been developed but are yet to be adopted extensively.

By

Upasana Nagar

 

 

Some great personalities with Visual Impairment

The man who gave us the laws of inertia, falling bodies and parabolic trajectories had imbibed his vision with a golden feather. Galileo Galilei, an astronomer, and mathematician, who gave us the fundamental laws of physics and astronomy, turned the tide in his way and made brief inventions of his time. Galileo was the first person to use the instrument, we now commonly refer to as the telescope, for astronomical observations. He was one of the first person to observe and state that the Moon is not blemish free and that it has a lot of hills and craters and other uneven features on its surface. However, destiny had some ‘different’ vision for him. Galileo turned blind almost a quarter century later, at the age of 72 and the most probable cause was cataract and glaucoma. Incidentally, even after losing one eye due to cataract he took excellent observations of the Moon and discovered the lunar liberation phenomenon. Galileo did observe the Sun using his telescope but did so when the Sun was almost on the horizon at sunrise and sunset. Courageously continuing with his astronomical research and with a firm refusal to look back, Galileo used the projection technique after initially observing at sunrise and sunset. Solar observation is indeed very dangerous if not carried under extreme care and expert supervision. It will cause blindness if care is not taken, but as far as Galileo goes, he was smart and careful enough and continued to study the law of falling bodies and parabolic path of projectiles.

Jhonny Depp wearing a pair of glasses.

 “Everything is just very, very blurry”. Yes, our very own Captain Jack admitted that. Johnny Depp aka Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean and Alice in Wonderland fame admitted that he’s blind in his left eye and near-sighted in his right. If Depp isn’t wearing glasses while acting he can only see a few inches in front of him. Something fans may have never realized until now. But what we can clearly see is his playful career ambitions and the perseverance with which he nails every role. The Golden Globe Award winner is leading us with an inspirational example to follow and firmly believes that it’s our psychological strength to look up for challenges, to do new and ‘different’ things. Putting forth your best step already makes you a winner. For now, he continues to be the creative and brilliant actor who has starred in such memorable films like Pirates of the Caribbean and Edward Scissorhands. But tackling his challenges with sight throughout his acting career is nothing compared to “The Lone Ranger” stars battle for normalcy. However, his determination and strength put in a right direction helped him in becoming what he is.

Featured image sources: Google 

By

Upasana Nagar 

Prevention of blindness and Visual Impairment

The colossal problem of blindness is well known to the ophthalmologists, planners, and administrators of this country. There are 9 million blind and 45 million visually impaired individuals. Of the 9 million 85% are curable and in 27% blindness could have been preven­ted if timely measures of promotion of ocular health, prevention of eye diseases and cure of many ocular pathologies had been taken at an early stage. This is equally true for reducing number of visually impaired. Such visual involvement, blindness and visual impairment place a huge economic and social burden on the nation. Visual impairment is a huge global challenge, both in terms of the burden of disability and the loss of productivity, resulting in a permanent loss of vision. The Ministry of Health, Govt. of India has launched a National Programme for Prevention of Visual Impair­ment and Control of Blindness to be completed in a period of 20 years. It has recognized that: “One of the basic human rights is the right to see. We have to ensure that no citizen goes blind needlessly, or being blind does not remain so, if by reasonable deployment of skill and resources his sight can be prevented from deteriorating or if already lost can be restored”. Also, in order to strengthen the eye health and prevention of blindness programme, the Sixty-Sixth World Health Assembly (WHA), which took place in Geneva from 20 to 27 May 2013 endorsed a new global action plan for prevention and control of avoidable blindness “Global Action Plan 2014–2019 for Universal Eye Health”.

It is very important to have regular eye examinations to stop your eyes becoming damaged by undiagnosed conditions. Most people should have their eyes tested at least once every two years, but if there’s a health condition, such as diabetes, glaucoma or high blood pressure (hypertension), then they will probably need to have them tested more regularly. An optometrist can advise better about how often to have your eyes tested. It is very important for drivers and people whose eyesight may be affected by their occupation, such as those who use computer monitors, to have regular eye examinations. Children should also have regular eye examinations. This is because it is very important that visual problems are diagnosed early so that learning and other developmental problems can be prevented.

Preventive eye care is the first line of defense against vision problems. Early detection of vision problems may offer more effective treatment options:

  • Having periodic eye exams (every 2-3 years for healthy patients under 50, yearly for patients over 50 or those with known health risk factors).
  • Knowing your family’s history for any eye problems (hereditary problems).
  • Following a healthy lifestyle.
  • Eating a nutritious diet for eyesight.
  • Wearing durable eye protection when involved in activities that could cause traumatic risk to your vision, such as sports, dealing with firearms, playing paintball and occupations, where hammering, cutting, sawing, drilling, or working overhead are other examples.
  • Avoid hazards such as fireworks.
  • Maintaining healthy eyesight also depends on getting sufficient vitamins and dietary nutrients. These nutrients play a key role in keeping the eye moist and helping protect your eyes from infection. A well-balanced diet will provide most of what normal adults need. Foods rich in omega fatty acids, and leafy green veggies contain lots of valuable nutrients. Vitamins A, C, and E are essential for good eyesight. Lutein and zeaxanthin may protect the macula and retina.
  • Watch your weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
  • Smoking is a major risk factor in the development of macular degeneration.

Eyestrain is common in the healthiest of people, especially today as we spend more time in front of screens- cell phones or computer. You can also try some easy steps to prevent or ease eyestrain.

  • Staying fresh: When using a computer or doing a concentrated activity such as sewing or reading, rest your eyes for five minutes every hour. Look away from your work, close your eyes, or simply stare off into space.
  • Blink regularly. Blinking helps reduce evaporation of the tear film that protects the cornea. Forceful blinking also relieves the strain of the continuous focus when you have been reading or looking at a computer screen, increasing the amount of concentrated activity you can perform.
  • While driving for long stretches, alternatively focus on the dashboard and a faraway object. Changing the focus periodically will relax the eye muscles and prevent eyestrain.

By

Upasana Nagar

Primary Reading Writing Tool for Visually Impaired- Indo-NVDA

In a country that is home to about 15 million visually impaired individuals, creating opportunities and making technological advancements becomes of utmost importance. One such unique endeavor is the NVDA (non-visual desktop access) screen reading software. It was developed originally by NV Access, Australia and further modified in order to benefit the Indian population by the research team in India, Mr. Dipendra Manocha being the principal investigator.
Making the world wide web more accessible and enhancing web inclusively opens up many doors for the visually impaired individuals. For blind people to use a computer, they need a screen reader which reads the text on the screen in a synthetic voice or with a braille display. However, most of the screen reading software available currently are too exorbitantly priced for the Indian population. In an interview with Christine Preusler, Michael Curran one of the two developers of NVDA admitted that “The extra software that enabled me as a blind person to use a computer was, in many cases, more expensive than the operating system — and, indeed, sometimes more expensive than the computer itself.” After losing his vision at the age of 15 Michael was granted a computer outfitted with accessibility software through charity.He started to develop Nvda after realizing the cost factor that limits the use of commercial software. Other software though helpful are most often prohibitive for the general population due to high costs.
Indo Nvda is an enhanced and updated version of NVDA, which is specially customized for Indian users which include 14 high-quality voices and 7 Indian languages (Indian English, British English, American English, Hindi, Bhojpuri, Bengali, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, and Marathi). The innovation also provides support for different keyboard layouts and includes technical support and training in Indian time zone and Indian languages.
The original Nvda software, when launched in India, had two vocalizer voices for the Indian population namely ‘Lekha’ for Indian Hindi and ‘Sangeeta’ for Indian English. These being robotic and synthetic voices, users often complained about lack of clarity due to hitching sounds and other disturbances.The Indo Nvda was later developed with 14 different vocalizer voices which were customized for the Indian population for example ‘Rishi, Sangeeta and Veena’ for Indian English, ‘Neel and Lekha’ for Hindi, ‘Ananya’ for Marathi, ‘Alpna’ for Kannada, ‘Geeta’ for Telugu etc. Indo Nvda proved to be a key for education and employment for thousands of visually impaired people in India. It supports popular applications including web browsers, email, internet chatting, and office programs including word and excel.The instructions and links for downloading this software are available at Skasham website. The DVD of the software comes with Itools and self-learning tutorial package from Enable India.
In a world where technology is indispensable for every individual, it is unfortunate than computers remain inaccessible to millions of blind people which severely limits their access to employment and education.Indo Nvda currently is a small but remarkable endeavor that has in a great many ways improved quality of life for thousands of visually impaired people in India.

By

Arunima Anand

TBI Blogs: Meet Chetna Nagpal: Visually Impaired, Ambitious, and a Fighter

Note: The post has been taken from the Better India blog. It was written by Shruti Pushkarna in 2016, the Communications Manager with Score Foundation in New Delhi.

People suffering from visual impairment often face extreme difficulties in various aspects of their lives. Here’s a young woman who decided to take on her disability – and its associated difficulties – head-on.

Chetna Nagpal was born with an eye condition called Nystagmus. It is a condition that causes involuntary eye movement and may result in reduced or limited vision. In Chetna’s case, she can see things but is unable to focus on anything. However, unlike many, Chetna does not think of her disability as a limitation. She believes visual impairment is more of a mental condition than a physical one.

“Visual impairment is not in the eyes, it’s in the mind. If you will feel that you are visually impaired then you will not be able to do anything. You need to go out of the way to explore the world.”

A 21-year-old ambitious young woman, is studying in her first year as a Political Science major in one of India’s top colleges, Lady Shri Ram College for Women. Born to totally blind parents, Chetna did not have it easy while growing up. Her parents did not know she could see at all, until she was old enough to start talking and pointing out things to them.

Chetna reminisces, “Initially my parents didn’t know that I could see at all. They had this misconception that I was totally blind like them. They used to switch off the lights and I used to cry, and they couldn’t figure out why. It was only when I started pointing out things to them that they realized I could see…When they did figure out that I had some vision, life became a bit easier.” Her journey was tough, but given her parents’ and her own optimism, Chetna never really felt restricted in any way despite her visual impairment. “My parents were very supportive. My father never stopped me from doing anything or going anywhere,” she says, visibly proud.

In 2007, Chetna came into contact with a Delhi-based NGO, Saksham, who helped her integrate into an inclusive education system in Salwan Public School.

“I was admitted into Saksham where I got two years of training. There, I learnt to read and write in Braille, and learnt math using a Taylor Frame. I learnt computers. After that, Saksham trainers felt I was polished enough to be inducted into a mainstream set-up to study, and got me admitted into Salwan.”

Chetna was among the fortunate few to have teachers and school authorities who understood her weakness and helped her study along with able-bodied children of her age. She did face issues initially because the teachers were not used to addressing the needs of a visually challenged student, but they gradually managed to make the environment more conducive.

Chetna made the most of her opportunity of studying in an inclusive environment. She was quick to point out her issues when her teachers failed to address her needs. Chetna even fought alone with the school authorities to get herself a good scribe so she could score well in her Class XII exams. She grabbed all opportunities in school to hone her communication skills, because she believes good communication is essential for one’s successful integration into the mainstream.

“Communication is very important. Everyone else communicates a great deal with their eyes. But for a visually impaired person, if we cannot speak well, then we cannot communicate or express ourselves fully.”

Apart from developing good communication skills, Chetna believes that persons with visual impairment should embrace technology. At her college now, with the help of assistive technology, she is able to keep up with her lessons. She is also able to commute by herself daily to college using public transport and her smartphone.

“With the help of computers, I can do my work faster. Technology eases out everything,” she says. “I have a smartphone with software in it that speaks out everything. So, I don’t need anyone’s help to read out numbers to me or to save a particular number for me. I have my laptop which has a screen reader because of which I don’t need anyone to read out the written text to me – I can read it for myself. I can record things for myself. If technology is used in a good way it can be very helpful. For us [visually impaired people] it is truly a blessing. The process of education also becomes a lot easier with technology.”

 At Lady Shri Ram College, Chetna has access to a resource room which is fully equipped with both technological and human support. But she believes that there is a need to replicate such support systems in all colleges and educational institutions so that visually impaired people can succeed and lead independent lives.

As a starting point, there is also a need to receive the disabled with welcoming arms into the inclusive education system.

Chetna has very clear views on the subject, “They should always welcome students like me. They should not say that he/she will not be able to survive in this environment. They should give us a chance.” She also feels that instead of putting responsibility entirely on the authorities, individuals should alter their behavior towards the disabled population. “I don’t know about authorities. I feel that individuals should do something. Authorities will automatically begin to do things when individuals will be more aware and proactive. The society is mixed. There are both good and bad people. They are not really bad people – they are just unaware – and they just don’t know any better.”

As for the visually impaired, Chetna believes they need to believe in themselves to be able to become a part of the mainstream, “As an individual, I always believe that one should never give up on anything. One should keep trying. You have all the right to do something for yourself and for society. So never give up on hope and always think that there will be a positive outcome. If today is not a good day for you then that doesn’t mean that tomorrow won’t be better. There will be a new day, a new beginning.”

The Inspiring Story of the Blind Photographer Who Shot an Ad Campaign with Katrina Kaif

Note: The article has been taken from Better India.

Why is it so amazing to not have any limits or doubts?

This profound quote by Aaliya Kamal, the blind photographer grappling with her artistic expression in the film Ship of Theseus, immediately comes to mind when you come across the work of Bhavesh Patel. Bhavesh is a visually impaired photographer who has shot one of the biggest ad campaigns in the country, starring Katrina Kaif.

An inspiration to many, Bhavesh is neither limited nor intimidated by his lack of sight. Photography, for him, is his passion, his artistic expression. A recent report by Bayside Journal gives us a glimpse into the mind of this talented artist.

In the interview, Bhavesh opens up about his creative process while working on the Lux photo shoot. “I shot those images while interpreting the sound of the fabric Katrina wore as well as certain machine-generated sounds that helped me interpret her movements. I was nervous before the shoot because I wasn’t too sure what I was about to come across but as soon as the shoot started, it went off pretty smoothly because there was no pressure to click pictures within the frame.”

For Bhavesh it all began in school, when his brother would encourage him to paint and help him by describing the things around. Bhavesh, however, wasn’t so confident about capturing moments himself. Not until he gained admission in St. Xavier’s College and met his mentor Partho Bhowmick, who specializes in teaching photography to the visually impaired. Soon, he went on to participate in the ‘Blind with Camera’ project.

Bhavesh, who had always wished to be unique, explains why he chose photography as his profession in a behind the scenes video from the Lux photo shoot. “I like photography for the very reason that, as a visually impaired person, nobody expects us to choose something that needs sight as the basic pre-requisite. That’s what makes me unique and that’s why I like being a photographer.”

Currently working with Barrier Break, he sees photography as his way of artistic expression. “I see photography as an art and I will perceive it that way. Professionally, there are many layers to it and it is a huge concept. The role of the photographer is to show society the real ‘picture’ and mirror the current situation. So, instead of sympathising with blind photographers, people should empathise with us. This would help people with disabilities feel encouraged to take it up and flourish in what they do.”

Now a confident professional with a passion for his work, Bhavesh gives credit to his mentor Bhowmick. Praising ‘Blind with Camera’ for providing a platform to blind photographers like himself, Patel says that they take the pressure away from the art and make the profession a passion. “There are a lot of blind folks that hesitate to come forward and experiment. He (Bhowmick) has provoked our minds to think differently and generate ideas and to explore the art to its highest level,” says Bhavesh.

There are many who hesitate to follow their passion because they doubt their own abilities. There are others who are afraid to take the plunge.

For all those reluctant minds, Patel has only one question: “How will you know how good or bad you are at something till you don’t make an attempt to go for it?”

So, feeling inspired to take that plunge, are you now?

Source: https://www.thebetterindia.com/72595/blind-photographer-shot-campaign-katarina-kaif/

Image Source: PICTURE FOR REPRESENTATION ONLY. SOURCE: PIXABAY

My first experience with Google Home, a Voice First Hardware

To begin with I would like to provide few facts and figures taken from an article at:
“A) Proliferation of voice-first hardware Voice labs define a voice-first device as an always-on, intelligent piece of hardware where the primary interface is voice, both input and output. The first voice-first hardware on the market was Amazon Echo at the end of 2014.
According to the 2017 VoiceLabs Report, there were 1.7 million voice-first devices shipped in 2015, 6.5 million in 2016 and there will be 24.5 million devices shipped in 2017, leading to 33 million voice-first devices in circulation.
The main speakers on the market are Amazon Echo (November 2014) and Google Home (November 2016). However, new players are rapidly entering the game: Sony launched the LF-S50G powered by Google Assistant (September 2017), Apple will soon release Homepod (December 2017), Samsung also recently announced that they will release something “soon” and Facebook may release a smart speaker with the touchscreen. Google assistant will also be coming to a number of new speakers, including the Zolo Mojo by Anker, TicHome Mini by Mobvoi and the GA10 by Panasonic. No doubts that the voice-first hardware layer is developing fast and is
expected to grow!”I got my first-hand experience with Google Home speaker in middle of

I got my first-hand experience with Google Home speaker in the middle of September and have since been enjoying the experience which is getting richer day by day. Google Home is Google Assistant based dedicated hardware with the built-in excellent quality speaker. It has no battery and will run only till you have it plugged into electricity. Below are few basic things about such speakers:

We say Okay Google and the speaker will be ready to listen to your voice command for few seconds. Normally this is indicated by the change of color on its LED lights. I switched audio blips from the accessibility settings since I could not make out if the speaker is ready to take my command through the LED lights. The Google Home is \ connected to the internet through the Wi-Fi. Google home is also added as a device to your google account thus getting access to your personal data available in your account and to services that you have subscribed to it.
We can give audio commands similar to ones that we give to Google Assistant on android based mobile phones or the ones that we give to Siri on iPhones. The special thing about such systems is their very powerful and sensitive mikes. You can be sitting anywhere in the room and the speaker is able to pick up your voice command from distance.

Basic stuff:
We can ask Google home to tell us the Time, Weather of not only our own city but of any place in the world. We can ask various questions such as population, distance to the moon or to the nearest coffee-shop, etc. All this is good but only adds to the initial excitement of new toy. Moreover, all this is already available on my mobile phone. Then I started experimenting with something more such as Play BBC world” and the channel started playing from the speaker. “Played the song by Mohammad Rafi” and it started a playlist that had songs by my favorite singer. Initially, it would not play many of the artists that I asked for. However, I subscribed to Google Play Music and then it provided full access to the collection and then the fun really started. Google home is yet not officially released for India thus it is yet not

Google home is yet not officially released for India thus it is yet not connected to many India specific services of news or music. Due to this I also could not configure the Google Home to access tune-In Radio. I can imagine that once I am able to configure India specific services and apps with Google Home, then how useful and exciting it would become.I was able to enhance the capability of Google home by installing Google

I was able to enhance the capability of Google home by installing Google Chrome Cast Stick. I can control the device through Google Home. Imagine this: Yesterday I said: Play Video on Chrome Cast and it started playback of recommended videos from YouTube on my television. Then I asked to “play movie Kaho Na Pyar hai on YouTube. The Google Home confirmed my command and Within a second the movie started playing on the television. This was amazing and looked like magic.

This technology is really picking up fast and being Voice First experience, quite good for people like me with vision impairment. The real fun and magic begin to expand if we install Wi-Fi enabled devices as this device can then be controlled through Google Homes and Amazon Echo. I have a Wi-Fi enabled electricity plug socket. With this I can switch any appliance on or off that is plugged into it using Google Home. These things have started showing up in our country. Such appliances have become quite common in US and Europe. For example, I was recently hosted for two days by our friend in Boston. He is using Amazon Echo. He was standing on the first floor of his house when I reached. He recognized me and said: “Alexa, unlock the front door” The front door on the ground floor was unlocked and I entered his house admiring the convenience provided with this technology. He also could adjust the temperature of any of his rooms through Amazon Echo using voice commands.With the launch of Amazon Echo in India on October 4, this technology is

With the launch of Amazon Echo in India on October 4, this technology is all set to remove several accessibility hurdles from our lives in coming months.

 

By

Dipendra Manocha

The difference that Music can bring about in children with multiple disabilities

Vihaan (name changed) has been attending the Infant to Toddler Unit at Saksham from July 2016. He was three year when he came to us. He is an expressive, social and happy kid. Some of his challenges were when he joined Saksham were lack of speech, lack of independent sitting, visual processing disorders, absence of swallowing and gulping. He was tactile defensive. He would resist touching wet and a variety of surfaces and objects.

Today, 4-year-old Vihaan vocalizes and babbles to communicate, sits independently and successfully swallows semi solid foods. Vihan is also able to fix his gaze at objects, tracks moving objects and has developed satisfactory eye hand coordination. He plays with a variety of toys having different textures. The team at Infant to Toddler has consistently worked in overcoming Vihaan’s challenges.

What really worked for Vihaan was MUSIC.  We started giving him music therapy since he joined and included music in most of his sessions. It was through this planned music program we were able to achieve the goals and targets set for Vihaan.  Vihaan never used his left hand before and now he is making great attempts in using his left hand. He is now performing activities that require the use of both the hands.

Saksham’s Infant to Toddler program is a family support program where services are provided to children with visual impairment, low vision; severe multiple disabilities and deaf blindness in the age group of 0-4 and till toddler.

By

Supriya Das 

Program Coordinator

SAKSHAM