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The blind can now open their eyes to coding

First-ever 'C Programming Book in Braille', launched in the city yesterday, will help blind students get jobs in the IT sector, or even become the next Steve Jobs

To ensure that blindness doesn’t become an impediment for those wanting to learn to code for fun or to enter the burgeoning IT sector, the first-ever ‘Braille Version of C Programming’ book was launched in the city last afternoon. Niwant Andh Mukta Vikasalaya and SEED infotech came together for the first-of-its-kind endeavour.

Blind student Akash Salve
Light of knowledge: Blind student Akash Salve, who helped make the book, reads from it at the launch yesterday. Pic/Mohan Patil

Directorspeak
Meera Badve, the Vikasalaya’s director, said, “We at Niwant work towards opening the doors to all kind of education for our students. In recent times, we have seen that almost all students aspire to take up computer programming as a career and C programming is a significant starting point for this, leading to the idea of the C programming book in Braille.”

Studentspeak
Siddhant Chothe, a blind former student of the Vikasalaya who was the technical in-charge of the book, said, “It was not an easy task as flow charts, tables and mathematical symbols cannot be printed in the Braille printer. We had to explain all of these in words. For the symbol ‘=’, for example, we had to spell out ‘equal to’ or ‘equals’. We have translated many books and novels to Braille earlier, but that is easy because you are only dealing with words. The symbols and drawings make programming a different ball game altogether. Though it was a tedious task, we never felt like giving up because we wanted to complete the book. It took us more than a year to do the full book.”

Support
“We are extremely pleased with SEED infotech’s immense support, not just with their expertise in content and course setting, but also in believing in the advantage that a ready reference book would provide to all blind students,” said Badve.
Bharati Barhate, executive director, SEED infotech, said, “It is our privilege to be a part of such a unique initiative to help our blind students make their careers in Computer programming. After this, we will soon come up with more advanced programming books in Braille.”

‘Immense help’
“We first had to prove to the world that we can operate computers and now we have to prove that we can do programming. It is great that the book has come up and it will be an immense help. When I learned programming, it was very boring and tedious but this book will help blind students understand the subject in a better way,” Chothe, the book’s technical in-charge, said. Akash Salve, a blind student of the Vikasalaya, who helped make the book and is also learning programming through it, said, “We used to learn how to operate computers from audio files, but that used to get tedious and boring. Reading this book is very interesting and really helps understand the C language. It has made the subject easy for all of us”.

Job prospects
Chothe pointed that after learning C, which is a widely-used programming language, blind people can get jobs in the IT sector. He said it will enhance their job prospects in various ways.

For beginners, and pros

The ‘Braille Version of C Programming’ book is helpful for every level of programmer — beginner, intermediate and advanced — claim the people behind the book.  Even somebody who is completely new to programming can use this book and master the C language. It starts with the definition of what a ‘Computer Program’ is, elaborates different programming elements and slowly delves into the basics of C like data types, different looping constructs, functions and so on. It then takes the reader through the advanced topics in C like dynamic memory allocations and different data structures like linked lists.

How to get it
The book will be made available to all students in Maharashtra free of charge. Interested people can contact niwantvision@gmail.com for a copy

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