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Celebrating the White Cane Day on Monday was also an occasion for the visually challenged to celebrate the advent of technology into their lives. Over the years,devices such as talking mobiles and software such as JAWS and Angel which allow them to read books and make notes using audio files have been helping the visually challenged lead a much easier life.
And now Dr Homiyar Mobedji,CEO,Technical Training Institute by Poona Bind Mens Association,is looking forward to the launch of smart canes being developed by IIT students.
While normal canes help visually challenged to judge whether the ground ahead of them is unobstructed,it is still possible for them to walk into a tree branch hanging overhead or bump into the back of a vehicle. The smart cane that is expected to be launched next year,has two sensors,one near the ground and one at waist level which vibrate and beep when there is an obstruction in front of the user.
A more recent example of new technological advances are the voice enabled GPS systems on phones.
I use my Nokia phone to find my way around in new environments. The app is free and has vocal instructions which tell me to take a left or go straight and gives me a lot of freedom and insight into the world. I dont have to ask people where the nearest restaurant or bus stop is anymore. It is liberating, said Mobedji.
Four months ago,the city also saw opening of the first of its kind sensory garden in the state at Bal Kalyan Sanstha on Aundh Road. The garden uses materials such as ceramic,sand,terracotta,glass and grass to provide different textural experiences and houses a variety of plants which can be identified by smell,touch and taste,such as mint. These surfaces and plants are accompanied by braille signs to teach students more about them.
Spaces such as this garden help our students discover the world around them in a way that was not accessible to them before. They learn about their surroundings by using other senses such as touch and smell, said Chandrakant Bhosale,principal of Poona School and Home for Blind School.