Visual Reality for the visually impaired, Inclusive Education At The Best

Tactile Braille Books

Harsh reality! The world is without images for students with visual impairment.

Majority of students with Visual Impairment in India use textbooks in Braille or audio during their entire education. Visual images which are integral part of almost every textbook are not available for them which means that students with visual impairment would either skip such topics or just do cramming without any conceptual understanding.

Enter Vision-Aid and Raised Lines Foundation!

Vision-Aid and the Partnership with RLF

Touch is believing! For children who are visually impaired, and who have never seen a tree or a star or a science diagram, the world of tactile diagrams and tactile STEM books opens up a whole new universe, using the sense of touch.  Vision-Aid is proud to partner with Raised Lines Foundation (RLF) a start-up coming out of IIT-Delhi to provide high quality tactile Braille books to children in blind schools across India replacing traditional Braille books which were lacking diagrams.

Vision-Aid is proud to say that Raised Lines Foundations has successfully addressed the handicap of the absence of diagrams and images in the textbooks used by a student with visual impairment, by developing techniques for designing and producing diagrams in tactile (raised) formats that can be accessed and interpreted by the student. Today, accessible books with tactile diagrams are available for various age groups from Primary to Senior secondary, covering topics and subjects like basic language learning books, activity books, concept-based books, Geography, Economics, Computers, Mathematics and Science.

Vision-Aid recognizes RLF as a Partner in a Program that provides students with vision impairment an opportunity to touch and feel what they learn through textbooks. We are grateful to Meetu & Ram Gupta Foundation of Boston, and several other donors for their generous support for this Program.

St. Louis School for the Blind

A distribution event for the tactile books was conducted at the school premises of St. Louis School for the Blind, Chennai on Feb 22nd. Members from Vision Aid, RLF and St. Louis teachers handed the new RLF tactile book kits to the excited 16 Class XII students. Few of the students and teachers who’ve used the RLF tactile books previously were eager to share their feedback with the team and the new recipients. 

One of the students explained : “My favorite book is the Map Book with which I understood the position of the cities, states , countries and oceans” [ Mas.Lakshminarayan, a student of class XII.] 

Poonamallee Blind School

A distribution event for the tactile books was also conducted at the school premises of Poonamallee Blind School, Chennai on 24th Feb. Eleven students received their kits and were excited to explore the tactile books and explain to us what they understood from the tactile books.

“This is the first time I’m able to imagine the shape of a heart!” said a visually challenged student of Class VII. Younger students were thrilled to feel the various favorite shapes in their coloring books and scream the names of the object in chorus excitedly when they identified new shapes like “Apple”. They were delighted knowing they could color independently.

“These books will be very useful for teaching kids of all classes. Our teaching will be much more efficient, and these kids can now imagine things which they have never felt previously. We look forward to your support in receiving such effective teaching learning aids for all of our children to improve the quality of education provided to them” said Mrs. Muda Mary, a primary school teacher.

Vision-Aid is grateful to many supporters who enable this program. It began with a generous gift of a few and has now spread to several other kind donors who feel inspired to give to this program. Vision-Aid welcomes anyone to donate towards this program to do so in any amount. The hope is to reach blind schools all over India and help more children, who seek to be enabled, educated, and empowered so they can live with independence and dignity! The kids who are beneficiaries of this program show their gratitude in this Video.

Our Accomplishments

RLF Tactile Books
S.No Schools/College Name Tier Level Period Amount Spent # of Students Benefitted # of Books Delivered
1 NAB Himachal 3 Q1 34,470 34 102
2 Institute for the Blind 3 Q1 1,18,785 117 351
3 NAB Chennai 3 Q1 25,387 25 75
4 St. Joseph’s School for the Blind 1 Q2 1,15,170 86 332
5 St. Louis Institute for Blind 3 Q2 1,28,895 96 371
6 IAB Madurai 3 Q3 89,401 35 175
7 Navjeevan Blind Relief, Tirupati 3 Q3 1,36,840 54 290
8 Andhjan Shala Shivarimal 3 Q3 1,41,483 59 296
9 Poonamallee Blind School 2 Q3 2,42,213 96 444
10 Institute for the Blind 3 Q3 1,76,658 Additional Books 211
11 NAB Himachal 3 Q3 51,540 Additional Books 75
12 NAB Chennai 3 Q3 37,683 Additional Books 56
13 St. Louis Institute for Blind 3 Q3 1,13,675 Additional Books 81
14 St. Joseph’s School for the Blind 1 Q3 1,02,800 Additional Books 73
15 Training Cost Q3 1,10,000 Training of all students
  Total     16,25,000 602 2,932

PHASE 2 PLANS

TOUCH, LEARN AND SHINE PROGRAM

This program aims at creating a transformative impact in the education of students with visual impairment. As a part of this program, we do the following:

Engage

  • Identify & connect with schools where students with VI are studying
  • Conduct awareness and capacity building sessions for their teachers

Understand

  • Focus on schools willing to improve and are pro-active to support students
  • Understand student needs based on subjects, medium of instruction
  • Understand financial constraints if any 

Enable Access

  • Raise funds to meet the requirements of students
  • Ensure necessary tactile books and related teaching learning aids reach students 

Training

  • Conduct 6-8 online sessions (1-2/week) with teachers and students 
  • Teach concepts with the tactile books during these sessions

Empower

  • Let the students themselves analyse the difference in understanding
  • Let them adapt, gain necessary tactile perception skills and start using the material

 

Period November 2022 to August 2023
No. Of students to be covered    400
Project outlay Rs 24.00 lacs (shared equally by RLF and VA)

IMPACT OF THE PROJECT

The impact happens at three levels:

 

1. Student level

  • With access to complete textbooks like sighted students, visually impaired students are able to better understand the concepts of science, math, geography, etc.
  • Self- confidence of these students for continuing in subjects like Science and Mathematics in higher classes has improved
  • Students in their feedback told us that their performance would increase by around 25% as their conceptual understanding has improved.

 

2. Teacher level

  • Teachers have enhanced their way of teaching through tactile books.
  • There is a significant time reduction in teaching the concept as they don’t have to make handmade diagrams.
  • With multiple books available, they can even teach larger groups together.
  • Teachers believe that they will be able to save 30 hours per month spent on preparing material and conducting smaller group classes

 

3. School-level

  • After exploring the effectiveness of these books, schools are eager to use these books in regular classroom teaching.
  • Schools believe that in the long-term, this will lead to transformational change in the quality of education for students with visual impairment.

 

This will ultimately lead to inclusive learning in its true sense, where both VI and sighted students learn the same concept simultaneously – only the modalities (sight and touch) are different.

FEEDBACK SURVEY

*Results based on data from 22 teachers and 38 students

  • All students want tactile books to become part of regular classroom learning.
  • Nearly 90% felt that the availability of tactile would make students with visual impairment opt for Science and Mathematics in higher classes.
  • 82% of teachers have started using tactile books in regular classroom teaching

TOUCH LEARN SHINE 2022-2023

This year we plan to work on two major areas to ensure the availability of accessible content.

Scaling the Touch Learn and shine program to 400 more students from 6 schools

We have identified more schools where tactile books will be useful. Six of these schools can be covered this year under the touch learn and shine program in collaboration with Vision Aid. We will cover 400 students in this project. Schools will receive tactile books and learning aids worth Rs. 5200 per student, along with training and support on using these books and aids.

The average cost of providing the Tactile Kit with training is 6000/student. Each kit includes a set of Tactile books according to the age group of the students. It includes Tactile books covering the basic concepts to enhance tactile perception as well as STEM tactile books covering Mathematics, Science, Geography and Computer-related diagrams. This year GEOMKIT, a geometry kit for mathematical construction, will also be included in the kits provided to schools based on their requirement.

ABOUT RAISED LINES FOUNDATION

The focus has been on addressing the root cause of this inequity through innovative and systematic interventions aimed at enabling true inclusion. The work began in 2018 under Centre of Excellence in Tactile Graphics (CoETG), established at IIT Delhi, with an objective of developing end to end solutions for the development of tactile diagrams in affordable and scalable manner. Over the years, team at RLF has developed the expertise to develop tactile (embossed) equivalent of visual images for the students with Visual Impairment. We have developed tactile version of more than 30 textbooks and concept books to enable experiential learning for students with visual impairment.

Majority of students with visual impairment and blind schools lack financial resources to procure and benefit from these resources. Vision Aid India is bridging this gap by procuring the books from RLF at subsidized rates and providing them to the beneficiaries jointly identified by RLF and Vision Aid India. More blind schools are expected to join the growing ranks.

Website link: https://raisedlines.org/

TESTIMONIALS

“My favorite RLF Tactile book is Exploring Windows. With screen reader we understand what is displayed on the screen but we never knew the shapes of the icon but now we know the shapes, short cut keys. My other favorite is the Map Book with which I understood the position of the states and ocean. Thank you Vision Aid and Raised Lines Foundation for providing us with these books.” said Mas. Lakshminarayan, a student of class XII at St.Louis school for the blind, Chennai

“These books will be useful for teaching kids of all classes. Our teaching will be much more efficient and these kids can now imagine things which they have never felt previously. We look forward to your support in receiving such effective teaching learning aids for our children to improve the quality of education provided to them” said Mrs. Amuda Mary, a primary school teacher at Poonamalle Blind School, Chennai

“I was delighted to feel the duck on my fingers and color them with crayons. I felt thrilled feeling the smoothness of the crayons and to be able to color the duck perfectly with the help of the tactile outline for the duck.” says, Ms. Logakeerthi, NAB Chennai

“The RLF tactile book helped me imagine the shape, position, area of our country, states, oceans and other countries. Previously based on audio or what was told to us we vaguely pictured it but now I’m very happy we can feel the shape and size of our country clearly” Mas.Santosh, St.Joseph school for the blind, Madurai

YOUR RECOMMENDATION

If you would like to recommend any blind school for the program fill in the below form: Recommend here

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