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Stop press: supply of Braille textbooks hit in State

Shankar Bennur

Lone machine develops major snag affecting printing work


Government Printing Press is the only Braille press in Karnataka

The State has 52 schools for the visually impaired


— PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM

Who cares:The hi-tech computer-aided Braille printing machine at the Government Printing Press for Braille in Mysore has become dysfunctional.

MYSORE: The supply of Braille textbooks to schools for the visually impaired in the State has been hit as the printing work at the State's only government printing press for Braille in Mysore has come to a halt. The lone printing machine has become dysfunctional since several weeks following a “major” technical snag and the authorities concerned are dilly-dallying in getting it repaired.

The press functions under the Department for the Welfare of Disabled and Senior Citizens and is located on the premises of the School for the Blind at Bamboo Bazaar here.

Though sources here maintained that 50 to 60 per cent of the Braille textbooks had been distributed so far to the schools, it is reliably learnt that not all the schools in the State had received the copies since the beginning of the academic year. The State has about 52 schools for the visually impaired. The press has printed over a million copies of Braille textbooks since its inception four decades ago.

The press got a hi-tech computer-operated printing machine under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) for faster printing as the old machine was time-consuming and obsolete.

The sources said the machine was supplied by a Lucknow-based agency four years ago.

This is second time that the machine had conked out affecting the work. Reportedly, the department had once got the machine repaired by the technicians of the All India Confederation of the Blind, New Delhi.

An official, on condition of anonymity, said the repair cost of Rs. 35,000 had not been paid to the confederation and therefore the confederation was “hesitant” to repair the machine this time until the department cleared the dues.

“The department has sought a letter from the government printing press in Bangalore stating that technicians for repairing the Braille printing machine in Mysore are not available in the State. Based on this letter, the press here has been asked to send a request to the department to take up the matter,” the official said.

The press provides books to the visually impaired children of primary schools free of cost while it charges one-third of the printing cost for the books supplied to high schools. Nominal costs are collected for 8th to 10th standard textbooks because of the number of volumes of the books and the use of expensive material.

The sources said nearly 6,000 to 7,000 Braille textbooks had been printed and distributed this year, and the supply of about 3,000 to 3,500 books had been affected due to the snag in the machine.

In addition to textbooks, the press also prints and distributes books in Braille in general knowledge, music, Kannada and English grammar. It also comes out with Braille calendars every year.

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