Project Awaaz — The 360 degree round view

Blindness is one of the most known physical impairments across the globe. Blindness makes one meet a tough fate in terms of one’s existence on a daily basis. The blind lead a life of enormous struggle as a result of no or impaired sight. All the tribulations, however petty at the first glance, stem from the mere lack of education. To any person, in general, receiving education is subject to two rudimentary factors: availability and accessibility. Education restricts their scope of employment and affects their personal lives in a huge way.

With the onset of this technological era, one would imagine utmost ease in performing tasks even for the disabled. Unfortunately, the accessibility technology is far from perfect. On the other side of technology, the good old friend, Braille, is used by 10% of the visually impaired population and those who use it have strong preferences for it.

Blindness as a disability is inclusive of elements which are unique, which are not known to the lay man. Some of these facts include that only 10–15% of people who are blind see completely and totally nothing, as there are varied degrees of blindness. Around, less than a 2% of visually impaired people use a white cane to navigate. On general grounds, 80% of the eye problems can be easily cured. They call it ‘avoidable blindness’.

Literature is important due to a plethora of reasons, and it won’t be exaggeration to say that both it’s excess and access is of sheer importance to human survival.

For starters, it helps us know stories a lot more better about various historic figures, great events, and its likes. It even helps us to know, and understand our existence better, and even helps us to live in a more civilized manner. Nevertheless, it is a boon to children as it helps children to grow and develop into something that they deserve to be and hold the potential to be. So, availability of literature is important because that is what makes man they way it is, and that is how man is frequently called the “thinking beast” because literature develops the mind and the thoughts unlike animals.

The current infrastructure of literature access for the visually impaired is in rags. While the scope and scalability of Braille is meager, audio-books hold the key to using technology to solve a major chunk of this problem. At the same time, the appalling fact is that only about 1% of all the world’s literature is available and published in the form of audio books. Project Awaaz came up as a boon to establish an environment which makes things easier for the blind people around us seeing the multiple problems the face. It is a societal, or community-based extra-ordinary initiative to crowd-source a large audio-book repository in the colloquial Indian languages for 15 million Indians (accounting for almost 40% of the world’s blind population) who are not gifted with the sense of sight.

The focus is on scheduled, or regional languages because many of the Indian blind speak in these languages, but don’t have content available in these languages. This aim is achievable by logging into the Project Awaaz website and by choosing a poem that you like, and with the help of a microphone all you have to do is to lend your sweet voice and the recording is further distributed to children in blind schools and adults who are at margins largely due to disability or socio- economic situations they are stuck in.

The project has been able to reach out to 800 blind people due to its partnership with organizations like Victoria Memorial School for the Blind and Kamla Mehta Dadar School for the Blind, and it’s likes, and it has been furthering itself now.

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