Research backs assistive technology to help visually impaired in bio labs

A research conducted by University of Pune (UoP) faculty on making conventional Biology labs accessible to visually-challenged students by integrating assistive technologies has been published by a noted international academic book publisher.

Titled Accessible Biology Lab for Visually Impaired, the research publication-cum-book aims at helping visually impaired to work in these labs with maximum independence, and thereby fostering their confidence and self-respect.

The research was conduced by Ketan Kamble from the Department of Education and Extension in association with Dhananjay Bhole, coordinator of Advance Technology Blind Student's Learning Centre at the university, under the guidance of assistant professor Vaibhav Jadhav.

Some of the innovative assistive technologies suggested by Kamble for the lab comprise a microscope attached to camera and a large LCD screen to magnify images for students with low vision, microscope attached to tactile diagram machine ( embosser) for those with no vision so that they can learn through tactile sensation, talking colour detector to identify the colour of objects using hearing sensation and fiber models of animals, plants and their parts.

"After completing secondary education visually-challenged students rarely enter into science stream at higher secondary level. Even if they opt for it, they find difficulties in performing practicals in conventional laboratories. Our research is helpful for such science-oriented students and teachers and educational institutes at large," Kamble said.

Kamble, who also has a Master in Biotechnology degree to his credit, said the idea to develop assistive technologies for visually-challenged was conceived by him as part of his dissertation work for the M.Ed course last year. "I was clear in my mind that my research for dissertation will be something which is applicable to society and amalgam of education and life sciences," said Kamble, who is a teaching associate at the department.

Speaking to Newsline, Bhole, himself a visually-challenged, said the assistive technologies suggested by Kamble and team is feasible and science colleges should take a lead in implementing it.

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