Digital device boost for visually impaired learners

Visually impaired learners in Kenya have received a major boost following development of a portable digital device that eliminates the need of the costly braille paper.

The gadget, Orbit Reader 20 can take take notes, store textbooks and enables communication between braille users.

This means the visually impaired do not need expensive braille paper and the time-consuming and tedious process of retrieving notes and other relevant reading content.

The Kilimanjaro Blind Trust Africa (KBTA) introduced the digital device initially to learners in 2018 and so far it has distributed about 500 units to grade three and four learners taking the new Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC).

“So far we have trained more than 100 class teachers and school-based technicians on the use of the Orbit Reader 20 as well as their basic repair and maintenance,” said KBTA chief executive Suparna Biswas.

Users of the Orbit Reader 20 can switch easily and instantly between modes that include book reader, note-taker and braille display.

The innovation comes with 20 eight-dot refreshable Braille cells, where the Braille display can either stand alone or be connected to a mobile device/computer.

Ms Biswas said the Trust is collaborating with the Kenya Institute for the Blind (KIB) and the African Braille Centre (ABC), which is tasked with coming up  with Braille curriculum textbooks in Kenya.

The two state agencies have provided the CBC  curriculum  textbooks  in  digital  Braille  for  grade  three  and  four  learners  with  visual impairments.

Last month, Unilever donated digital Braille devices worth Sh22 million to the KBTA for distribution to leaners with visual impairment in secondary schools and colleges.

The 300 multi-functional digital devices can aid the visually impaired to read books, take notes and save textbooks in their memory card.

“This donation is an example of how we are bringing our commitments of building a more equitable and inclusive society to life,” said Unilever Kenya managing director Luck Ochieng.

The KBTA is an international charitable Trust mandated to support learners with visual impairment access quality education and digital literacy skills.

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