Learning Braille independently is now possible for students of the Rajyakrit Netrahin Madhya Vidyalaya in Harmu, Ranchi.
This is thanks to Annie, India’s first self-learning Braille literacy device developed by Bengaluru-based start-up Thinkerbell Labs. Annie is now being used by 25 blind students across age groups at this government school.
The devices have been designed such that they can instruct students in learning both English and Hindi Braille, with voice commands in Hindi.
Implementing it in Ranchi, a city which has does not have good Internet connectivity, came with its own set of challenges for the team. This required some additional developments to boost the device, said Aman Srivastava, Co-founder, Thinkerbell Labs.
Implementing it in Ranchi gave us an understanding of the work that needs to be put in to make Annie function in a seamless manner. It gives us an insight into what it would mean to scale something of this nature in India – Aman Srivastava, Co-founder, Thinkerbell Labs
The devices are being remotely tracked by the team, which is looking at the possibility of extending it to other areas. They are in talks with Jharkhand officials to replicate this in other schools.
There has been interest shown in Annie from other cities as well, like Mumbai and Hyderabad.
How Annie works
Annie is an audio tactile device that enables self-learning and classroom teaching of Braille. Students can learn how to read, write, and type in Braille.
Annie has a smart correction module so if a student types the letter ‘m’ wrongly, then Annie will give immediate corrective feedback. It also captures all this information to be given to the teacher or parent later, so they know where their child is going wrong – Aman Srivastava, Co-founder, Thinkerbell Labs
The smart class model for the blind is a unique one in India and Annie’s success be the key to addressing the problems of low Braille literacy as well as the lack of special educators in India.