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XRCVC promotes access tecnhology through ADIP distribution

SmartCane, Plextalk Vachak distributed under ADIP scheme

The XRCVC conducts access technology awareness and experience workshops (Reading Without Seeing—RWS) all over the country. This is given the wide range of assistive devices for the blind available for demonstration at the XRCVC. Unfortunately, a very large proportion of the end users find it a major challenge to come to the XRCVC and experience the power of these devices. Consequently XRCVC as part of an active extension focus has decided to take these devices out to the people and conduct workshops. During the many 'Reading Without Seeing' workshops XRCVC has conducted, it has been found that there is a very high demand for assistive devices among the visually impaired, but most of them can't afford even the basic devices.

Keeping in mind that affordability should not come in the way of these persons being able to use these devices, XRCVC decided to tie up with the National Institute of Visually Handicapped (NIVH) to help distribute two key devices under the Govt of India's recently upgraded ADIP scheme (http://socialjustice.nic.in/adipmain.php) on August 5, 2014 at Mumbai's prestigious St Xavier's College. The 2 devices that we selected for distribution were the Smart Cane and the PlextalkVachak. The chief guest for the event was Ms Vidya Balan, acclaimed actress and an alumnus of the college, who has regularly promoted social causes.

Method adopted

In the first phase, XRCVC decided to focus primarily on visually challenged college students, and contacted colleges in Mumbai that have visually impaired students on their rolls and sent them a form.

A total of 53 recipients were shortlisted (on the basis of the documents they provided) to receive these devices. In addition 2 persons were given the SmartCane as part of a special distribution by IIT Delhi. Four of the recipients were persons with deaf-blindness.

The event was widely reported in the media with over 50 media persons present. For reports see annexure iii

The event began with a short audio-visual on the making of the SmartCane. It was followed by speeches by dignitaries on the dais. Dr Sam Taraporevala, Director, XRCVC, spoke about the relevance of the ADIP scheme in promoting accessibility among the visually challenged. He also highlighted the vital role of the Dept. of Disability Affairs, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Govt of India, in upgrading the ADIP scheme, and also the NIVH in terms of its clear focus in reaching out across the country through partnering with the social sector. Dr Fr Frazer Mascarenhas, SJ, who spoke next, stressed the college's commitment in promoting inclusion by encouraging a culture of diversity and active strategies to promote empowerment. Dr Rohan Paul from Assistech (IIT Delhi) spoke about the ongoing commitment of IT Assistech Lab towards promoting accessibility. He also welcomed the govt's move in encouraging independent mobility by distributing the SmartCane through the ADIP scheme. Mr S Gupta from Shenano Kinshi, developers of the Plextalk Vachak, expressed his happiness that a portable Daisy player with Hindi TTS would now reach large numbers of users thanks to the ADIP scheme. The chief guest, Ms Vidya Balan, expressed her immense joy at being invited by the XRCVC for such an historic event. She expressed the view that given the right environment and technology blindness would only remain a physical condition and not result in a disability. She was very appreciative of the fact that aids and appliances were being made available through ADIP. The distribution of aids and appliances then followed with each recipient coming up on stage and receiving their devices at the hands of the chief guest. The function ended with a vote of thanks and the national anthem.