Publish Date: August 21, 2023
Raised Lines Foundation Launches Tactile STEM Learning Kit for Visually Impaired Children on its 5th Anniversary
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New Delhi: On its 5th Anniversary on August 18,2023, Raised Lines Foundation (RLF), a non-profit start-up incubated at IIT Delhi, launched a ‘Tactile STEM Learning Kit’ for visually impaired children. The kit includes a GEOMKIT developed in partnership with Vistrit Gyan; a Mathematics Geometry Encyclopedia developed in partnership with XRCVC, Mumbai; a Science Primer developed in partnership with Saksham Trust; and JoJ0 blocks developed in partnership with Microsoft Research, Bengaluru, India.
With this launch, perhaps for the first time, the visually impaired in India would have access to STEM learning material and kits on par with the best in the world, Prof. M. Balakrishnan, Chairman, RLF, said.
JoJo blocks are tangible toys that enable children with vision impairments to absorb concepts of numeracy through play.
"The JoJo blocks were conceptualized at Microsoft Research as part of their ludic design methodology and engineered to perfection by RLF: attractive, rugged, and low cost, Dr. Manohar Swaminathan, Principal Researcher, Ludic Design for Accessibility, said.
Dr. Sam Taraporevala, Executive Director, Xavier's Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged (XRCVC), believes, "It is very essential for every blind and low vision person to have a clear mental visualization of the diverse geometric patterns. In the absence of this, people are placed at a distinct disadvantage. Producing this set is our contribution to eliminating the tactile shape deficit, which is plaguing the STEM field for blind and low-vision persons."
"GEOMKIT® (Patented) is designed such that students with visual disabilities can easily construct embossed geometrical constructions independently. In fact, all the geometrical constructions as per NCERT Classes VI – X syllabus have been successfully made using GEOMKIT," said Mr. Anupam Garg, Founder, Vistrit Gyan.
RLF is a Section 8, not-for-profit, 80G, and 12A certified organization established with the sole aim of empowering people with visual impairment through education and independent mobility.
RLF is the first non-profit start-up incubated at IIT Delhi and is based on the know-how developed through four years of research undertaken at the Center of Excellence (CoE) in Tactile Graphics. This CoE, as well as RLF’s incubation for translation into products, was sponsored by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) of the Government of India.
RLF's goal is to provide high-quality, affordable learning and support materials for visually impaired learners. RLF converts standard textbooks, manuals, and resource books, with a focus on STEM books, into an accessible format incorporating tactile diagrams that visually impaired students can comprehend. The key objective is to enable students with visual impairments to pursue a career of their choice.
Prof. M. Balakrishnan, Chairman, RLF, shared that "It is the dedication of our young team that in this 5-year period, we have not only become self-sustaining, surviving the COVID pandemic, but also have been continuously innovating, both in terms of new titles, new partnerships, as well as production technology."
Mr. Dipendra Manocha, Director, RLF and Founding Trustee, Saksham Trust felt that "the last five years of work by RLF have shown that technology has the power to make education accessible to all and can be a great equalizer to build an inclusive education ecosystem in the country."
Prof. P.V. Madhusudhan Rao, Director, RLF, added that "RLF has been successful in bringing talented and highly qualified persons to the field of Braille and tactile book production, which has resulted in access for the visually impaired to course material in subjects like STEM, Geography, Economics, etc. like never before."
Today, RLF has many tactile books available from primary to senior secondary, including all the NCERT textbooks in Science and Mathematics. In addition, RLF, in partnership with different organizations, has also developed various tactile kits and accessories, including a Geometry kit, tactile blocks for numeracy education, etc.
Further, RLF has also initiated a service to convert STEM content into accessible digital formats for students with visual impairments and educational institutions. In the last five years, RLF has produced 40000+ books and aids and provided them to 12000+ beneficiaries across 27 states in India.
Through its recently launched Touch, Learn, and Shine Program, RLF has trained more than 4000 students from 60+ schools across India.
About Xavier's Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged
The Xavier’s Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged (XRCVC) is a direct support and services centre for persons with disabilities and conducts a national-level awareness and advocacy program for persons with all forms of disabilities as recognized by the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016. It has 20 years of experience, research base and expertise in the areas of inclusion, assistive technologies, accessible products and services, and awareness and advocacy.
About Anupam Garg and Vistrit Gyan
Anupam Garg is an IIT Kanpur Computer Science graduate and MBA (Finance) with more than three decades long experience in IT/Software space. His last full-time role was as the Program Manager/ Engineering Manager and Agile Driver for various versions of Acrobat and Acrobat DC at Adobe. In 2015, Anupam took an early retirement to pursue his other life goals full-time – i.e. to work towards promotion and advancement of Maths and Science knowledge and learning among students with visual disabilities. His initiative, Vistrit Gyan, is an endeavor in this direction. Through Vistrit Gyan, Anupam has set his aim towards designing innovative learning kits, learning aids, and teaching aids for this purpose.