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National Centre for Assistive Health Technologies (NCAHT) at IIT Delhi Launches Assistive Technology Products for Visually Challenged

By   /  June 25, 2024  /  Comments Off on National Centre for Assistive Health Technologies (NCAHT) at IIT Delhi Launches Assistive Technology Products for Visually Challenged

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New Delhi: The ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research)-supported National Center for Assistive Health Technologies (NCAHT) at IIT Delhi launched various assistive technology products for visually challenged people. Dr. Rajiv Bahl, Director General, ICMR, unveiled these products in the presence of Prof. Rangan Banerjee, Director, IIT Delhi.

The recently launched assistive technology innovations by NCAHT at IIT Delhi included Shapescapes (a geometry learning kit), high-quality White Canes, and an Accessible Kit for STEM Education. The NCAHT also announced that large-scale user trials of SmartCane Version 2 and Refreshable Braille Display have begun. These innovations, co-created with Saksham Trust, New Delhi, will empower visually challenged people in their independent mobility and education.

Dr. Rajiv Bahl, DG, ICMR, while launching the products, emphasized the need for developing indigenous assistive technology solutions for unmet needs in this space.

Prof. Rangan Banerjee, Director, IIT Delhi, emphasized the importance of grooming students into ambassadors of social innovation by engaging them in state-of-the-art R&D activities.

NCAHT shares a collective vision of enabling disability inclusion through assistive technology by developing a range of AT solutions and services designed to ensure that every individual can live their life to the fullest, regardless of their abilities.

Shapescape is a geometry learning kit to overcome challenges faced by visually challenged students in teaching/learning concepts of geometry. NCAHT has created a kit that allows students to use it in a DIY (do it yourself) manner. This low-cost assistive aid is designed with principles of universal design in mind and can be used by sighted, low-vision, and visually challenged students.

Accessible Kit for STEM Education: The kit has been developed to overcome challenges faced by visually challenged students in learning concepts of electronics such as logic gates, electronic components, circuits, etc.  It allows students to understand the fundamentals through inclusive models, which have embossed symbolic representation along with real components.

The kit also includes a self-learning book with concepts explained through tactile diagrams, large print, and Braille. Both of these products will be manufactured by the Raised Lines Foundation, a not-for-profit social enterprise from IIT Delhi.

High-quality white canes: The white cane is a fundamental assistive technology used by visually challenged people for independent and safe mobility. It is one of the products listed in the NLEAP (National List of Essential Assistive Products). Kenstel Communications Private Ltd., in collaboration with IIT Delhi, has developed a high-quality white cane, which has been an unmet need for a long time. The cane meets international standards and overcomes major problems faced by white canes manufactured in India.

User Trials of SmartCane Version 2:

IIT Delhi, in partnership with Phoenix Medical Systems, Chennai, and Saksham Trust, with funding from the Wellcome Trust, had developed SmartCane, an electronic travel aid. It is currently used by about 150,000 people in India and abroad. SmartCane Version 2 is an improved version of the earlier product. It has been developed with improved usability and user experience and has overcome additional pain points for users and obsolescence. This product, which is on the NLEAP list, has gone through a few design-build-test-modify iterations and is currently undergoing large-scale user validation trials.

User Trials of Refreshable Braille Display:

The Assistech Lab at IIT Delhi, in collaboration with Phoenix Medical Systems and Saksham Trust, has developed Tacread, a new refreshable Braille technology, to enable visually challenged users to access digital text from various sources in Braille format. A visually challenged person, for example, can access any book in Braille format from Sugmya Pustakalaya, India’s first and largest collection of accessible books. Large-scale user validation trials have begun for the current low-cost version of the Braille reader.

Mr. Sashi Kumar, Managing Director of Phoenix Medical Systems, termed his experience of collaborating on these product development endeavors as both professionally and personally satisfying.

Mr. Dipendra Manocha from Saksham Trust said the release of a new assistive device means that some of the challenges faced by blind people will become things of the past.


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