India’s visually impaired population is over 50 lakhs. They now can study and learn India’s geography in detail rather than relying only on literature. Thanks to the efforts of NATMO and the initiative with a vision to make scientific information available to these souls in a cost-effective manner. Apparently free of cost.
The Department Of Science and Technology of The National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organization (NATMO) Kolkata, on February 10, 2017 released a braille atlas with an aim to ’empower’ the visually impaired with the ‘wealth of knowledge’. It is suppose to be the first in the world. Yes, you got that right! Meant for masses, this atlas has 20 maps of India on various themes like drainage system, road and railway network, agricultural soil, river system, crop patterns, metropolitan cities accompanied with a map key and reference in braille script.
Manufactured using silk screen printing, the maps are raised and embossed with simple lines and point symbols to facilitate it’s users to realise the location and area coverage and easily distinguish between shapes and textures. The atlas is currently printed in Hindi and English.
“This will be very useful to visually challenged persons. Before starting work on the atlas, we spoke to several blind societies in the country, like those in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat and they told us that such an atlas was much needed,” Dr Tapati said. He further said that the cost of the book is yet to be fixed by the government and that at present it is being given for free to people. Efforts are on for a world atlas for the visually impaired.
Braille maps for West Bengal and Meghalaya are also prepared in Bengali and English respectively. NATMO has also asked the governments of Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Gujarat to come up with state maps in English and their regional languages.
“This is for the first time that a comprehensive atlas has been prepared for physically challenged with such minute details,” Director of NATMO, Tapti Banerjee said.
“But we intend to give a couple of free copies to institutes teaching visually impaired students,” Union Minister for Science and Technology, Harsh Vardhan, said.
Aniruddha Bhattacharya who passed away in January earlier this year was scientific officer with NATMO He along with Amitava Chakraborty and Devnath Sengupta- research officers, played a key role in preparing the atlas.
NATMO has also received an award for this by prime minister Narendra Modi.
We are truly proud. Do share the pride!