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‘Special’ project to make children computer savvy

Staff Reporter

Orissa Service Centre for the Blind imparting computer skills through ‘Jaws’ programme

— Photo: Lingaraj Panda

HI-TECH: Visually challenged students learning keyboard operation under the newly-added facility of computer use at the school run by Orissa Service Centre for the Blind in Berhampur on Wednesday.

BERHAMPUR: Thanks to a new project initiated by the Orissa Service Centre for the Blind (OSCB), the visually challenged children of the city and adjoining area can now dream of becoming computer experts.

The OSCB has started first computer education centre in south Orissa for the blind in a shoestring budget at their residential school for visually challenged girls in the city. The secretary of the OSCB Bhabani Shankar Padhi, who himself is visually impaired said, a few years ago he was unhappy as visually challenged persons in Europe and the US have been using computers but that facility was not available in Orissa. However, he had hopes that one day globalisation would bring in the technology to his doorsteps.

“We want the next generation’s visually impaired to be no less than their counterparts and computer skills are basic foundation for any work in modern world,” he said. So, the OSCB has decided to start computer education with the help of ‘Jaws’ software.

Jaws is a software, which runs in the background and reads the screen and cursor position during operation of a computer. A visually challenged person is able to use the computer by using keyboard with help of this software. It reads all functions for a visually challenged person, making him/her an expert in operating basic computer programmes. Besides, voice facility enables them to use Internet to gain knowledge as well.

Enthusiastic lot

After the initiation of this new project, the students were quite enthusiastic to learn computer about which they have only heard earlier.

Instructor Tanmayi Badatya said they started to take more interest in learning English as without it they would not able to understand the verbal instructions of the software and use of computer. She dreams of the day when software experts would come up with similar software, which would use common Indian languages. “The students are being made to learn the position of keys in the keyboard and it may take few months for them to remember them, she said. According to her a sharp visually impaired student would be able to get to use a computer in just three months using this software.

Mr. Padhi said this computer centre would provide free residential training of computer skill to girls in future. He urged the corporate houses and philanthropists of the city to donate their old computers in running condition to be used by the students of the centre.

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