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USP Donates Braille Eye-Slates to Special Schools in Fiji

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Honourable Dr Mahendra Reddy, Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts and National Archives of Fiji and Professor Rajesh Chandra, USP Vice-Chancellor and President present a Braille Eye-Slate to Ms Veronica Narayan, a Braille teacher at Fiji School for the Blind.

The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE) have donated Braille Eye-Slates to three (3) special schools in Fiji.
 
The Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts and National Archives of Fiji, Honourable Dr Mahendra Reddy officially presented the Braille Eye-Slates to the Fiji School for the Blind on 16 May 2017.
 
Braille Eye Slate was developed by engineering students, Nikhil Singh and Vinaal Prakash under the supervision of Dr Utkal Mehta, Senior Lecturer at USP’s School of Engineering and Physics (SEP).
 
Braille Eye-Slate is a low cost solution to teach Braille language to visually impaired children. It has various modes to facilitate braille learning faster and easier by audible aid and soft key press, which is suitable for children. 
 
The Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts and National Archives of Fiji, Honourable Dr Mahendra Reddy commended the University for standing up to delivering one of its core businesses which is research and innovation.
 
“We see that USP, at the verge of its 50th Anniversary is making a remarkable contribution in terms of contributing to the existing technologies in Fiji and the region,” Hon. Dr Reddy said.
 
The Fijian Government, Hon. Dr Reddy added, believes strongly about ensuring that no child is left behind and that children with special needs get the same opportunity to have access to education and have a better standard of living as other children.
 
The manufacturing cost of Braille Eye-Slate is approximately FJD 150. 
 
Hon. Dr Reddy said that through USP, the team from SEP were able to come up with a product which is superior and at the same time financially affordable.
 
The Minister highlighted that Fiji has a very robust and developed tertiary education system in the Pacific region. 
 
“USP is taking lead in (tertiary education), it has got a brand name and is sought after by other countries in the region to acquire higher education,” Hon. Dr Reddy said. 
 
This, he added, demonstrates USP’s standing in the region as well as internationally through the accreditation of its programmes, research, publications and innovations such as the Braille Eye-Slate.
 
“I hope that this innovation not only reaches out to schools in Fiji but in the region as well,” Hon. Dr Reddy said.
 
USP Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Rajesh Chandra said that the University is pleased to bring together a number of strengths that combine the interests of the Fijian Government in Education and Inclusive Education that goes beyond the devices and is part of a broader commitment of the University’s Strategic Plan (2013-2018).
 
Professor Chandra applauded the work and enormous progress that SEP is making in developing a culture of innovation.
 

A student of Fiji School for the Blind tries out the Braille Eye-Slate.

“Today you will see the benefit of a number of things that the University is doing and one of this is that USP is maturing into a university that does a lot of research,” Professor Chandra said.
 
The project, Professor Chandra highlighted, speaks about the kind of differences individuals can make. 
 
“We engage more in the development of our member countries and we want to always support the directions and initiatives that Governments take,” Professor Chandra added.
 
In early 2016, the project thought was incubated with a vision to provide technological solution to blind people so that they can adopt Braille quickly at an early age. 
 
The project was funded to systematically investigate the level of braille illiteracy in children in Pacific Island Countries.  The objective was fine-tuned after consultations with stakeholders in special schools.  
 
It was also concluded that there is some educational barriers for teaching braille not only for children in the Pacific but also blind people around the world. 
 
Researchers in SEP were further motivated when this project was awarded top in ranking of the 2016 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Young Engineers’ Humanitarian Challenge in the world.  It has been recognised as a valued humanitarian project.
 
Dr Anjeela Jokhan, Dean of FSTE said that their aim is to support special schools in Fiji with engineering solutions so that more students start learning braille, become graduates and enter the professional world.
 
USP, she added, has already enhanced its facilities focusing on disabled students taking up higher education studies at the University.
 
The team from USP and Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy presented the Braille Eye-Slate to Nadi Centre for Special Education on 15 May and will be giving away the device to Labasa School for Special Education on 17 May 2017. 
 


This news item was published on 16 May 2017 10:04:06 pm. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email communications@usp.ac.fj


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