Bengaluru: Among the more than 25 million visually impaired people in India, Braille literacy rate is less than 1%, say makers of Annie, a device that helps students learn how to read, write and type in Braille script without the intervention of an instructor.
Built by Bengaluru-based startup Thinkerbell Labs, Annie is being used in schools for the visually impaired in Karnataka and Jharkhand.
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“Braille learning is a one-on-one process and students need constant assistance from a special educator. Due to a skewed teacher-student ratio, students in most special schools in India receive less than five minutes of personal attention from teachers, with the average ratio being one teacher per 12 students,” said Avinash Kothuri, head of partnerships at Thinkerbell Labs.
“With Annie, teachers can monitor multiple students at the same time, making teaching of Braille in classrooms possible,” he added while speaking at the Assistive Technology Conclave here on Friday. It was organised by Assistive Technology Accelerator (ATA), the state-government sponsored accelerator, and NGO Samarthanam Trust.
Annie was one of the products displayed by startups at the conclave. Other products ranged from bionic hands to audio tactile and Braille converting devices.
Another city-based startup, Tactopus, is working towards making visually impaired science and mathematics students learn through tactile graphics — images that are embossed and textures that can be e-read by the fingertips.
Tactopus has also designed an interactive audio companion through a smartphone app, which makes it possible for blind children to learn independently.
* Bengaluru-based Eye-D has developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI) based app and camera, which work together to give visually impaired users a live commentary of their surroundings
* NCR-based Inclov has developed a match-making and meet-up portal for people with disabilities
* Mumbai-based Innovision has developed BrailleMe, a digital device that gives visually impaired students and professionals quick and easy access to their books, files and notes
* Chennai-based The Symbionic Company has developed a state-of-the-art bionic arm, which, it claims, will cost at least 20 times less than existing products in the market
* Saarth is an assistive mobility device designed to work both indoors and outdoors and can be mounted on any cane. It notifies users of obstacles and offers them routes on navigation