Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Use of Assistive Technology in Blind Schools of West Bengal: A Comparative Study

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Use of Assistive Technology in Blind Schools of West Bengal: A Comparative Study

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The state of West Bengal has issued the West Bengal Persons with Disabilities Rules 1999 to implement the provisions under the Central Persons with Disabilities Act 1995. West Bengal is an eastern state, which according to the West Bengal Census 2011, is the fourth most populous state in India. The state of West Bengal in India has a population of 91,276,115, spread over an area of about 88.752 sq. km. and literacy rate of 76.26 percent. The total differently able population is about 2,017,406 and visually challenged population is 4,24,473 among which 2,23,325 are males and 2,01,148 are females(Census Data, 2011).

The Census of India 2011 shows that six to seven percent of India's population is differently abled and it is estimated that this number will increase due to poverty, malnutrition, emergence of new diseases, drug abuse, road accidents, armed conflict, violence, poor health care and service, and other factors leading to disability. The World Bank Report (2007) predicts that between 1990 and 2020, there would be a doubling of disabled population due to injuries and accidents, and more than 40 percent increase may be witnessed in the share of disability due to non communicable diseases. This compels us to think that India should have a comprehensive policy for differently abled people to ensure their access to higher education, which should be based on a multi-faceted approach to make them realize their full individual potential and maximize their social and economic contribution to the society (Mitra, Shukla and Sen, 2014).

Visually challenged people are those who suffer from either of the following conditions:

(a) Total absence of sight.

(b) Visual acuity not exceeding 6/60 or 20/200 in the better eye with correcting lenses.

(c) Limitation of the field of vision subtending an angle of 20 degree or worse (Roodhooft, 2002).

The main causes of blindness are cataract, trachoma, AMD and glaucoma which account for more than 70 % of the global blindness. Other causes of blindness are childhood blindness, onchocerciasis (river blindness), diabetes retinopathy, corneal opacities, ocular injuries, leprosy and visual loss (Mittal, n.d.).

Students with visual impairments face unique challenges in the educational environment. Not only must they be able to access text information across all curricular areas, but they also need to be able to participate fully in instruction that is often rich with visual content. Assistive technology is one way of supporting them in that process. Consideration of assistive technology by the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team is required for all students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and when deemed appropriate, it must be provided and supported by the local education agency. This is to ensure that students with disabilities have the tools necessary to fully access and participate in the curriculum, with the greatest possible level of independence. Even more important, use of assistive technology helps prepare students for independent living, vocational pursuits, or higher education. "Assistive technology" refers to a range of tools, devices, and strategies that allow a student to accomplish a task that they would otherwise be unable to do, or would have difficulty accomplishing effectively. Assistive technology can be simple or complex. Examples of low tech tools for students with visual impairments might include enlarged text or raised line paper, while high tech tools may encompass digital tools that "read" to the student, connect to a braille display, or even incorporate GPS (Tebo, n.d.).

REVIEW OF THE RELATED LITERATURES

A literature review is an evaluative report of studies found in the literature related to a selected area. The review should describe, summarize, evaluate and clarify this literature. It gives a theoretical basis for the research and helps to determine the nature of the research. …

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