Updates from the Field: Digital Literacy in India

By Julianna Wright, posted on
A collage of photos of students and teachers participating in digital literacy training.
Top: teachers at RDT receive training on digital literacy tools. Below: Students at NFB Gyandeep Sparsh Kanya Vidyalaya Residential Girls School pass around a computer keyboard.

The Benetech India team is constantly on the move. They lead trainings throughout India to empower the students with digital literacy skills that are vital for education, employment and independent participation in society. Read on for a recap of recent trainings from our Asia/Africa Program Manager, Dr. Homiyar Mobedji.

Digital Tools Transform Learning for Rural Youth with Visual Impairments

“Anantpur, Andhra Pradesh is a sleepy town where the summer temperature goes beyond 46 degrees Celsius (114 Fahrenheit), and this is where one of the largest schools for the blind in India is situated. The inclusive school run by the Rural Development Trust, better known as RDT, is home to more than 250 visually impaired boys and girls who mainly hail from rural India. The school is an excellent center of learning for these underprivileged youth who are provided with the best of facilities and education.

After the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, all visually impaired students from grades six to nine received Lenovo 10-inch tablets and those in grades ten and above received laptops. This introduction of modern technology has completely transformed learning for these students, who in the past had to rely on bulky, fragile, and often limited supplies of Braille books.

Benetech, through its Digital Literacy program and Bookshare service, has been supporting these students by providing them access to more than 800,000 accessible titles on their assistive devices, including their state curriculum textbooks in both English and Telugu mediums and many more reading opportunities.

The team is now focusing on empowering the students to write using their modern tools, so that they work independently, without needing a scribe. This is the first step towards becoming employable.

Other like-minded NGOs who specialize in providing ready-made tactile materials have supported our team, as tactile learning is a great supplement to the digital content from Bookshare.

The team is also putting in efforts to encourage students to take up STEM subjects in their higher grades. Reading and writing math is a recent development in the world of assistive technology and the Benetech team is bringing in knowledge from its international partners to these students in the southeastern corner of India.”

Partnering with National Federation for the Blind, India to Ease Transition from School to Life for Girls from Underserved Communities

“NFB Gyandeep Sparsh Kanya Vidyalaya is a residential school run by the National Federation of the Blind India and serves more than 100 girls. The students mainly come from tribal or economically disadvantaged regions of India.

The Benetech India team partnered with NFB India, to lend their technical expertise in digital reading and writing solutions. The team conducted a two-day introductory workshop at the school, where we emphasized the importance of digital literacy in today’s world. The girls learned how to use reading applications on their Android devices for reading their educational content in Hindi and English. The training also focused on other important aspects such as the importance of mobility, body language and presentation.

This workshop was the first in a series of programs which shall continue over the next three years. The ultimate goal is to ensure that all the students are able to read and write digitally, which shall ensure that these students enjoy a smooth transition from school to the wider world when they graduate.”

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These are just two examples of the great work our India team is doing every single day to empower blind students in India to pursue education, employment, and live joyful, independent lives.

Learn more about the program, which is supported by the Lavelle Fund for the Blind.

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