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Visually challenged students in Tamil Nadu are facing problems due to highly expensive braille books for various subjects and their insufficient availability. They cost at least 30 per cent higher than other normal editions. A city college student, M Vellaiyammal said that the price of braille text-books was often prohibitive. She told PTI, “I request my classmates (who are not visually challenged) to read out from usual textbooks, record it and listen to it again and again to understand the subjects”. She added that several subjects like comparative politics were just not available in braille editions.
Most of the students belong to socially and economically backward sections of society and cannot afford such high priced books. V Sankarlal, founder of a voluntary organisation, MRL Anbargal Nesa Karangal, that helps such students, said, “We welcome help, be it braille books or for other academic needs of visually impaired students.”
Programme officer of Indian Association for the Blind, R Tamilselvi agreed that the price of braille books were quite high. She said, “Printing a single page of a braille book with features like embossing to identify letters would consume about two to three pages used in a normal book. Therefore, the cost would obviously be on the higher side. But with the support of donors and patrons, the cost could be brought down”.
On inadequate availability of textbooks, she said, “It is a big grievance, with support we can address this issue.” On the cost of braille books, Booksellers and Publishers Association of South India Executive member R M Meyyappan said, “The publishing industry as a whole is facing a lot of issues, especially after implementation of the GST regime and demonetisation.”
As per the 2011 census, there are 1,27,405 visually impaired persons in Tamil Nadu of the total disabled population of 11,79,963 persons.