Digital literacy skills, assistive technology, and Bookshare ebooks are Amaan’s ticket to education, independence, and a future full of possibilities within reach
Until Amaan met Sanjog via the Bookshare Helpline service, he thought computers were just for playing video games. A typical teenager, Amaan is 15 and in the eleventh grade at Indore Public School in the city of Megh Nagar in central India. Like his friends, he is preparing for the IIT-JEE (Indian Institute of Technology-Joint Entrance Exam) and SAT examination and planning to attend university.
Amaan differs from his classmates in one respect, however: he is the only visually impaired student in the school. At the beginning of third grade, Amaan’s parents noticed some changes in his handwriting; it was getting messier. In addition, he was not able to locate items that were far away from him.
“When it came to schoolwork, reading and writing were difficult because Amaan was dependent on someone to assist him,” explains Amaan’s parents. “Especially in reading, there was no way for him to read the books by himself. Even though he knew braille, it wasn’t sufficient to keep up with his assignments. Writing in braille was also a challenge because his writing speed was very slow compared to other non-disabled students.” Fortunately, Amaan and his parents learned about assistive technology through Sanjog, who is a technology trainer on the Bookshare India team and handles the Technical Helpline.
Computer Tips and Tricks from Sanjog is a Lifeline
Sanjog is an accessibility expert who lost his sight at age 17. When he started supporting Amaan via the Bookshare Technical Helpline, he began with the basics. “Initially, Amaan thought that computers were just for playing games, and as he is visually impaired, he was desperately looking for audio games,” says Sanjog. “I cleared up many of his misconceptions about computers and started giving him basic tips.” The support via the Helpline included:
- Typing, Microsoft Windows 11, Start Menu, and File Manager
- Email, internet browsing, YouTube
- NVDA screen reader
- Microsoft Word as a reading and writing tool
- Thorium Reader app to read Bookshare books
- Other study and entertainment-related resources
Bookshare Has All the Books Amaan Needs
“Initially it was a little difficult for him to use technology for his schoolwork and other tasks, but in time he became familiar with the internet, Microsoft Word, and Bookshare with Sanjog’s help,” says Amaan’s parents. In addition, Amaan’s new skills are an asset to his family. “He is able to do almost all the internet-related tasks at home such as paying the electricity bill.”
The Future is Within Reach
With digital literacy skills and thousands of textbooks in accessible formats, what was out of reach for Amaan is now possible. From computer basics to preparing for exams, Amaan has the skills and resources to pursue his dream: studying computer science at a university and embarking on a career in the IT sector. When asked what future they see for Amaan, his parents say, “We hope that he achieves all the things he wants to do.”
For individuals who are blind or have low vision, technology and accessible materials are the springboard to education, independence, mainstream acceptance, and ultimately meaningful employment. Just ask Sanjog and Amaan.
Benetech thanks Lavelle Fund for the Blind, a foundation that supports programs that help individuals who are blind or visually impaired live independent and productive lives, for supporting our literacy work in India.
Contact the Bookshare India team at [email protected] or call the Helplines that are open every day from 9 AM to 6 PM IST:
+919650211575 – for general enquiries (also available on WhatsApp and Google Duo)
+919284028466 – for technical support