A new chapter

— Indian Express
Pune
India

​16 volunteers of CybageAsha, all full-time professionals, worked hard to covert a 256-page book into a soft copy, which was later converted into braille format.
WHILE working tirelessly towards his mission, perhaps even Louis Braille – the inventor of the revolutionary reading and writing system, braille – must have not gauged how his invention would transform the lives of many in coming decades. It’s been more than 180 years but braille continues to light the lives of countless visually-impaired people across the world. 

It was last year in June when the representatives of CybgaeAsha, a CSR arm of Cybage Software Pvt. Ltd. Had visited Jagruti School for Blind Girls (Alandi). While the group donated a braille kit, they also chatted with the school authorities in order to understand the school’s future requirements. That’s when they learnt that although the text books are available in braille, the guide is not. “The school requested if we could convert class X English Digest into soft copy, which could be converted into braille format for the students; we agreed,” said Prashant Mahamuni, senior CSR executive. Established in 2003, CybageAsha contributes to society through its four core initiatives – Rural Upliftment, Alcohol De-addiction, Social Welfare and Go Green. 

Nearly four months ago, 16 volunteers of CybageAsha were assigned the task of converting 256 page book into a soft copy. The task though sounds easy was challenging for the volunteers; considering that all of them are full-time professionals, handling different job responsibilities at Cybage. 

The group of volunteers were divided into two. While one group handled English typing, the other took care of Marathi. “Prior to assigning the task, we had invited a representative from the braille Press, who briefed the volunteers on various measures to be taken while typing as the text was meant for the visually-impaired,” adds Mahamuni. 

“It’s not possible for me to pitch in the project during office hours. Hence every day, after I reached home, I used to dedicate around two to two-and-a-half hours,” says Divya Nair, one of the16 volunteers, who works as a software engineer at Cybage. Nair says that the task wasn’t limited to plain typing. “We had to be careful when it came to diagrams, match-the-following, fill in the blanks and so on. Besides for the visually impaired one cannot have long sentences. So we had to break the sentences and type.” She explains. 

Mandar Kadam, another volunteer, says, “We were given a target of completing 10 pages per week. As I am a localite I took up Marathi typing. Though it was a little bit difficult in the beginning, once I got a hang of it, I could do it much faster; just about an hour a day was sufficient.” 

Once ready, the soft copy of the book was later transcribed and printed in braille by the school, the cost of which was borne by CybageAsha. Last month the braille book was presented to Jagruti School of Blind girls at an event, where the volunteers associated with the project were also felicitated. 

Although hectic, the overall experience, according to the volunteers, was satisfying. “ The efforts put in, were absolutely worth it,” says Nair.