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Devbrat Patnaik

Berhampur: Finally, the visually-impaired higher secondary students in Odisha can do away with audio tapes or the reading assistants as the Braille Press in Berhampur has begun production of textbooks for the sightless students of Plus-II colleges across the State.

The printing facility is expected to complete the printing of Literature, English, Political Science and History books prescribed by the State government for Arts stream, by the end of February 2021.

Narasingha Nayak, a visually impaired student said, "The Braille books will lessen the students' burden. It is easy to cover the course by reading books rather than hearing the cassettes. They will acquire vast knowledge if books are available."

Prakash Narayan Rath, Manager of the Braille Press said, "This year, we have decided to produce textbooks on four subjects for the Plus-II first-year students. Most of the books are in the proof-reading stage. We have aimed to finish production of all books by February end."

Till now, Braille textbooks were only available for students of Class 1 to Class 10, while the blind students in the colleges were forced to cover their syllabus by hearing lessons from tape recorders. Repeated rewinds and forwards during studies made the job all the more difficult for them.

Due to varied syllabi for different universities, printing Braille books for college students became difficult earlier as the State has only one Braille textbooks production house in Berhampur.

However, in a bid to improve the quality of education for the blind students of Plus-II, the department of Social Security and Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (SSEPD) in October 2019 set up computerised Braille machines at the press. Further, the government reportedly has made a uniform syllabus for all varsities now. The German-manufactured machine which was procured at a cost of Rs 1.18 crore, has a capacity of printing 16 characters per second.

As announced by the State government, Plus II examination this year will be conducted between May 15 and June 11.

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