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SSEPD Department Collaborates with IIT for Technological Solutions to Enhance Inclusive Education for Visually Impaired Students

Bhubaneswar: The Department of Social Security and Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (SSEPD) has joined forces with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bhubaneswar, in a significant move towards providing inclusive and quality education for visually impaired students in the state. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was formalized today, outlining plans for the provision of comprehensive technological solutions to enhance the educational experience of visually impaired students.

Ashok Chandra Panda, Minister of SSEPD, expressed optimism about the collaboration, emphasizing the transformative role of assistive technology in enabling visually impaired individuals to access education on par with their sighted peers. He highlighted the advancements in assistive technology, particularly in computers, tablets, and smartphones, which have facilitated reading and writing in standard scripts for visually impaired individuals.

Under the collaboration, the Sponsored Research and Industrial Consultancy (SRIC) of IIT, Bhubaneswar, will partner with the Exclusive Tinker Lab to emphasize modern learning approaches such as coding, micro bit, 3D painting, games and animation, mobile apps, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and robotics. The initiative aims to provide tabs and smartphones for secondary students, support for online classes, career guidance, soft skills training, sheltered workshops, personality development, a digital library, and distribution of audio books through the engagement of MSW scholars and NSS volunteers.

Key components of the inclusive education initiative include the provision of Kibo Devices for visually impaired students in high schools and higher secondary schools. Regular monitoring of activities implemented through the MoU is planned, with IIT, Bhubaneswar, offering technical guidance and support for identifying appropriate assistive devices based on the needs of visually impaired students.

Bishnupada Sethi, Principal Secretary of the SSEPD Department, highlighted the significance of the collaboration, emphasizing that IIT, Bhubaneswar, will play a pivotal role in broadening avenues for professional development and inclusion. The project will encompass training students, career counseling, setting up a recording lab, and establishing an accessible art center.

The MoU was signed by Niyati Patnaik, Director of SSEPD Department, and Dinakar Pasla, Professor and Dean of SRIC at IIT, Bhubaneswar. Senior officials from the department and academicians from IIT were present at the signing ceremony.

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