The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Computer for the blind
- Narendrapur Mission introduces Braille keyboard

Scoring a first in eastern India, the Ramakrishna Mission Blind Boys Academy at Narendrapur has introduced computers with Braille keyboards. This promises to open up a whole new world for Gopal Biswas, Taraprasanna Haldar, Tapan Kumar Nath, Rana Biswas and many more visually-challenged children. The computers not only allow them to write but also read printouts of their work, also in Braille.

“Welcome. Welcome. My name is Taraprasanna Haldar,” keyed in the young boy at the recent inaugural function. “At last, we can use a tool which we all have been hearing about for the past few years,” Haldar said.

Amway Opportunity Foundation (AOF), the ‘corporate social responsibility’ arm of Amway India, donated five computers to give blind students a feel of the hi-tech world around them.

Swami Asaktananda, secretary Maharaj of Ramakrishna Mission, Narendrapur, said: “Such a facility is not present in West Bengal, or in the entire eastern region, making this computer centre so special.” The centre, he added, would ensure that around 150 students of the academy, in addition to other visually-challenged children, have access to computers. Each student will be charged Rs 300 for admission, but the training will be free. “The academy will consider granting concessions to needy but meritorious students,” said Swami Asaktananda.

The centre will also be used by Madhyamik students at the academy with computer science as an additional subject. Sanker Parmeswaran, vice-chairman of AOF, felt the computer centre would go a long way in equipping students of the academy, “one of the finest in the country”, with vital tech skills. “The aim is to bring the visually-handicapped into the mainstream so that they do not feel isolated,” he added.

The visually-challenged employed in public and private undertakings can undergo training at the centre to help them retain their jobs. Blind students from the post-graduate courses in Jadavpur University can also sign up.

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