Bangalore University increases enrolment of blind students with help of technology

Bangalore University has increasingly become an attractive prospect for blind students! Since 2012, there has been a steady rise in the enrolment of blind students. A change that has been made possible thanks to technology.

The screen reader technology, which converts text content on the screen in voice, has enabled many students to access study material and use the internet. Students use either the proprietary Job Access With Speech (JAWS) screen reader, and the free-to-use Non Visual Desktop Access (NVDA) to work on personal computers. Talk Back, the screen reader on the Android Operating System enables them to use smartphones.

The NVDA and JAWS can read Indian languages. This has enabled students to learn subjects like software testing that was earlier inaccessible.

All the software was first given to the Bangalore University's Braille Resource Centre in 2012. The introduction of the technology has increased the pass percentage of blind and visually impaired students substantially. The centre was built at a cost of Rs 25 lakh and includes personal computers, software and Braille printers.

Students say the technology makes them feel equal to others. Many of them can operate the personal computers faster as they have learned the shortcuts quickly.

It has also given blind students a greater choice of subjects. Earlier, many of them would opt for music and arts after Class 10. Now they are enrolling in management and computer application programs

At present, only three universities in Karnataka have the Braille printing facility. These are Bengaluru, Mysuru and Dharwad.

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