A new reading machine from Vietnam for blind people is all set to reach India
A chance encounter with a close friend led Nguyen Thanh Trung, a college student in Vietnam, to start working on an exclusive reading machine for blind people. When Trung found that his friend, despite excellent reading skills, was not able to get access to books for the blind, he decided to do something about it.
Now, Trung's device, which does not have a name as yet, has come all the way to India. At the recently held International Exhibition for Young Inventors, he was welcomed with open arms by organizers and participants.
The device is in the size of an iPad and is made out of plastic. So, what makes it so special? The upper surface of the machine is designed like a keyboard with raised dots to help blind people read the text. The reading machine of the device will help access printed materials and scanning texts, which will be converted into Braille.
Trung has made the device in a simple manner because he does not want to over-charge his blind customers. There are already many Braille equipments in Vietnam and other parts of the world which are priced at lakhs of rupees. What makes his device unique is that it is not expensive and can be purchased by the common man!
However, in a country where many people don't know Braille, just how popular will it be? Besides with many audiobooks and other technologies in the market, the device may find limited sale.
Maitreya Shah, a blind law student and disability rights activist says his chances of buying the device are pretty low.
Personally, I do not know how to read Braille. Since this device works with the help of Braille, I don't think I will use it. We live in a world where technology is available at your fingertip. There are many mobile apps that are available for blind users. We even have Microsoft's Seeing AI App that has multiple features and is free of cost! New mobile apps for blind people are being introduced every now and then. I would rather use something that is updated with latest technology and something that I can access anytime. My mobile phone is always there with me. So accessing apps is not a tough task.- Maitreya Shah, Law student
However, Trung, who faced many roadblocks while creating this device and has won awards for it, says the device will help blind people from economically backward families.
Tony Kurian, a blind student at IIT-Mumbai, believes the device will change the lives of many blind people.
"We are heavily dependent on technology, mainly computers. So this new device that scans books and converts them to Braille is going to be something different. What makes it even more unique is that it is priced low. Hence, people from different walks of life can buy this. Most of the Braille devices are quite expensive. I use a similar Braille device named BrailleMe that was created by a student from my college. It is handy and has helped me a lot", says Kurian.
Clearly mixed reactions coming from the visually impaired community in India. But it is encouraging and interesting that young people are looking at developing accessible technologies for people with disabilities.