Uncle Sam’s Battles For The Visually Impaired

Dr Sam Taraporevala of Mumbai’s XRCVC, one of the country’s finest resource centres for the blind, tells Malay Desai of his recent victories and his continuing battles for accessibility.

Dr Sam’s room, preceded by swanky ‘special’ computers, gives away his centre’s position through numerous accolades. There are also stacks of printed material all over, perhaps an effect of the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2012 which was passed in May last year, enabling those with visual impairment and other print disabilities to convert any book into Braille, audio and other formats without the publishers’ permission. “We’ve now got the freedom to create accessible copies (of books/material) without being seen as doing something illegal,” he tells me, later admitting that the Act legalised what the centre was doing any way to cater to needs of blind students. “But now we are at par with a large number of countries which have this law,” he adds.

The team has however ensured the centre is technologically one of the country’s most well equipped centres for the visually challenged. “The facilities – whether they’re screen readers or OCRs (which scan/edit/read aloud printed material) or refreshable Braille machines – are of international standards,” he beams and it’s true, I’ve seen the centre constantly evolve with shinier, smarter machines.

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