Friday, February 1, 2013

Sambalpur boy plans computer for sightless

Can a visual impaired person be active on the internet as normal.?. But  to what extent? Can he chat on social networking sites or can he be as quick and efficient like person with proper eyesight?  A Sambalpur youth has come up with answer to all these questions.
Thirty-nine years old Rakesh Babu of Sambalpur town , who is also the grandson of famous politician late Banamali Babu has to walk a long ways to become the assistant professor of information studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (USA) and presently is exploring the way to make Internet and computers more accessible for the blind and visually impaired person. Babu also believess his research on usability can also provide benefit to computer users with sight. He is also first sightless of the globe to  get a doctoral degree in Information system.
A Graduated from Gangadhar Meher college of Sambalpur district town of western Odisha, he lost his future hope after losing his eye sight. due to suffering from ‘ Tepidity retinal degeneracy’ which he describes as one of the rare of rarest disease. He remains idle for more than 5 years in Sambalpur before he started his journey to USA. Thanks to the advice of his sister, resides in USA to take a chance. In fact his aim was to get proper treatment, but his  US-stay provides a new vision to the visual impaired youth. He than decided to join in the IT sector to prove his confidence and ability.
“It was a nice experience for me. In our country, if you are a blind no once see your talent. But in USA if you have talent, your physical condition is secondary”, Rakesh said while talking to the author during his visit to Sambalpur. He claimed that he has the ability to do something but also believed that person having blindness from birth has more ability than him.
When he joined his first computer class he convinced that he could never put the technology to good use. The visual impairment made it difficult for him to conceptualize the computing concepts that the teacher was describing. But over time with the use of technology, he learnt ways to unlock the power of computing “I want to educate the world about blind people’s Web experiences. I feel myself privileged for my condition,” Babu said. “Since I become a blind I can go through the same experiences as 314 million other people around the world with visual impairment go but my condition gives me the ability  to communicate  the world about the problem of these people which normally not a topic for discussion” , Babu added. He disclosed that he wants to educate the world about blind people’s Web experiences. He said blind persons have the ability to become best IT professional but since the education is designed for sight people, the sightless one gets tripped up on a task that becomes "routine" for a normal. Taking a test on Blackboard, doing research on the internet or shopping online are just like a routine of chatting with friends on Face book.
To combat that, Babu’s research – dubbed “The Mind of the Blind on the Web” – focuses on understanding the problems blind people encounter in today’s internet-centric society by removing the obstacles to provide equal opportunities to sight-less. He is presently working on “Decoding the Mind of the Blind” as he feels mind is the visual organ of blind person.