The visually-challenged and the print-disabled can now heave a sigh of relief as e-books are now available for them to pursue under graduate and post graduate courses in School of Distance Education, Andhra University.
A new software has been launched on the campus on Saturday to enable accessibility of books for the visually-challenged students free of cost. Furthermore, students can also read newspapers, magazines, novels and special course materials through the tool which is enabled with a screen reader that can read out the content in 14 Indian languages, including Telugu.
Terming the tool as a first-of-its-kind facility provided by the university in the country, AU Vice-Chancellor G. Nageswara Rao said the free online library would make a world of difference for the visually-impaired students who could now browse through a wide range of e-books with just a click.Students are very much satisfied with the new begining and this should be a model for others too.
The alternative solution has been offered in collaboration with Bookshare, a wing of the US-based company Benetech. “Those with learning disabilities can also find the content quite useful,” said Terry Jenna, international head of Bookshare.
Deputy co-ordinator of the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad V. Rajasekhar and country director of Bookshare Homiyar Mobedji, who are visually-challenged, said over 5 lakh e-books covering various subjects can be accessed through the digital library. “The biggest limitation that we have been grappling with has eventually come to an end as the e-library will help us read a book independently,” they said.
Registrar of AU V. Umamaheswara Rao said there were about 150 visually-impaired students studying various streams in the university. According to director of the School of Distance Education L.D. Sudhakara Babu, a total of 15 academic books have been made available for the students and the remaining will be added in a phased manner. Those who have already been a member of the online library said the facility had taken their academic performance a notch higher. “Accessibility to international books is now made easy. Though the online option available is quite vast, sorting out the list would do the trick,” said G. Vijay Raj, B.Tech student of AU and member of the digital library for the past two years.