Bridging the distance issue of viewing the Blackboard

A classroom solution for the low vision

As a part of our study on assistive technology for people with low vision, Barrierbreak realized that often the complexities of students with low vision are not as evident as they are for students who are blind. Low vision students generally have no or very poor distance vision making it difficult for them to read from the black board in the classrooms or get information from diagrams, charts, graphs or overhead screens. Equipping the classroom with the right technology can enable a student with low vision get access to education and information as any other student.

The Case

Shubhi Shadiza is a student with low vision of the Second Year Bachelor of Arts at the St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai and her subjects are English, Economics and Psychology. She decided to continue her education with St. Xavier’s as they provide her with in house resources that aids her in her studies.
Due to low vision, Shubhi was not able to see the blackboard as clearly and had to rely on a one to one teaching approach or help from her friends. She had gone through an inclusive education and had faced this problem for most years of her life. This does affect her learning in a class especially when it comes to subjects like Economics where she needs to understand, say the diagram that the professor might be showing on the blackboard. Even though she loved Economics as a subject, she was unable to cope with the graphs in class when the professor would explain them on the black board and found this to be depressing. It was also difficult for her to do certain things like sketching & painting and thus distancing her from the others and the reality at hand.  

Solution & Impact

As a part of our initiative and experiment with XRCVC (Xaviers Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged) we introduced Optelec ClearNote for Shubhi in her classroom. ClearNote is a portable optical device that has been specially designed for people with low vision. This lightweight unit makes transportation to school or the office easy and is ideal for near, distance or self viewing. BarrierBreak provided a one to one training to Shubhi on how the device needs to be used and then asked her to use it on her own for a month for free.

Shubhi working on the sketch with the ClearNote connected to her laptop    A smiling Shubhi drawing a sketch with the help of a ClearNote connected to her laptop

Using this device Shubhi could not only access the blackboard in the classroom or other distance objects easily but even a cap of the pen that lied down a few feet away from her. She was also able to enjoy painting and sketching and could see and correct any little mistake in her work. She was no longer depended on her teachers, friends or volunteers to comprehend and study graphs in Economics. Moreover, she could now read each and every book that she would like to without it having to be scanned / edited / typed or read by someone else using the ClearNote.
She adds “I was lucky enough to be a part of this experiment where I got a chance to use the Clear Note for more than a month which I utilized completely. I used this tool for two and a half hours every day for the time period I was allotted. I have even used it to read banners and recognize faces from far and have succeeded in every task. Overall, it has made my life easier and I now feel like any other student in my college. It is one of the greatest boons in my life as now I am much more independent than before.”
From a BarrierBreak perspective, it has the potential of providing a solution beyond the classroom by allowing Shubhi to sketch and paint. Shubhi says “Clear note even made sketching and painting possible for me as I could see the little mistakes in my work and could correct them on my own. It helped me change my life and has made it simpler and easier than before.” There is more to life beyond studies. Solutions can sometimes go beyond and provide opportunities to people!
Dr. Sam Taraporevala, Director, XRCVC adds “At the XRCVC we believe very strongly that technology can help create a level playing field. The experiment with the clear note proves this point. Such technologies if made widely available would be able to bridge many a divide. We feel very satisfied with the results and look forward to the next positive steps”.

Optelec ClearNote

The Optelec ClearNote is an USB-compatible video magnifier that creates the ultimate workstation for low vision students and mobile professionals.

About XRCVC

XRCVC is a state of the art support centre, aiming to work towards the holistic development of visually challenged persons, located at St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai.

About BarrierBreak

BarrierBreak is an Accessibility and Assistive Technology firm in India. BarrierBreak, a brand of Net Systems Informatics (I) Private Limited is the pioneer of Accessibility and Assistive Technology in India and the first company to set up an Accessibility lab as well. Our teams are aligned with our vision and mission to help our clients to provide accessible solutions.

Source: Barrierbreak website

May 21, 2013

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