NITK brain for the blind

NITK brain for the blind

Often it is said that India is facing brain-drain with smart and intelligent techies from India using their brain for the technological development of other countries.

But here are some students who are thinking differently. A 21-member team led by final year Computer Science student Niloy Gupta from National Institute of Technology (NITK), Surathkal, has developed 15 softwares for educating the blind children in India under the project ‘Humanitarian computing: Educational solutions for the visually impaired’. The project is funded by IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional society. The formal inauguration of the softwares took place at Roman and Catherine Lobo School for the Blind, Bijai on Thursday.

“While going through different magazines, I understood that there is a lack of teaching softwares for blind children in India. I shared my views with my other friends,” said Niloy Gupta. “We are doing different projects for academics and for different contests. Why can’t we use our abilities to help the Indian society? From this thought, we started developing softwares for these kids,” he explained. Niloy, the Chairman of IEEE NITK Chapter with his other members of the group started working on the project from September 2011 onwards.

Games oriented
Even though the softwares are meant for learning, the design of the softwares is game oriented. “It would be more interesting for the students, when they are learning Mathematics through different games with the help of the software ‘Vimath’. They will tend to sit and work more on mathematics,” said another team member Anand. Similarly, different subjects like English, General Knowledge have different softwares.The softwares will work both in windows and in a free operating system ‘Vinux’ (for the blind).

 “The response from the children at Roman and Catherine Lobo School is tremendous,” he added. The team is also providing the softwares for similar schools in Bangalore and Trivandrum. The NITK students will go to these places and explain the usage. As a part of the project, two computer systems were also donated by the IEEE NITK chapter to Roman and Catherine Lobo School.

“The support from IEEE and from our teachers is remarkable. Once we sent the proposal, the eminent persons from IEEE gave suggestions and the funding came in two days,” said Niloy. The total project was funded by IEEE for Rs 1.5 lakh. The technical assistance for the users will also be providing by the website created.

The softwares are developed both in English and Kannada. Mouse is not at all used in these softwares and is completely keyboard oriented.

“The softwares provided by the NITK students help students very much. It is quite appreciable that amidst their academic works, they found time to help the visually impaired section of society,” said School Principal Calistus D’Sa. NITK Director Professor G Umesh, Dean Professor Sumam David, Computer Science department Professor Annappa were also present.

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