Till last week, 12-year-old Pratuyush Vange never thought he would be able to read Shyamchi Aai, a classic in Marathi literature. But three days ago, the visually-impaired Class 7 student finally got down to reading it after getting hold of the Braille version of the book.
"I would have very little to do after school ended at 4pm and would get bored. But now I am engrossed in the book, which is a tribute to a mother's love," said Vange who studies at the Victoria Memorial School for the Blind (VMSB) in Tardeo.
Like Pratuyush, hundreds of visually impaired students will now have access to classic Marathi literature. A project initiated by the Rotary Club of Pune will have more than 32 books transcribed in Braille and made available to 40 government schools in Maharashtra.
"We decided to transcribe classic Marathi literature books for the visually-challenged because there is so little available for them. Every school will receive two copies of a book," said Dilip Sohani, the project in-charge.
At present, students from three city schools have received books such as Shiv Charitra by Babasaheb Purandare and Sane Guruji's Shyamchi Aai. And more are on their way to schools in Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Sholapur and Kolhapur.
The project was initiated in March with 14 books transcribed for children between the ages of 5 and 14 years. While 3,500 pages were transcribed in Braille in the first phase, the second phase will comprise transcribing 9,500 pages. Besides plans to transcribe the Ramayana and Mahabharata penned by Marathi writer TG Bapat, the Rotaract Club is likely to include classics in English literature as well.
Umesh Jaere, a robotics professional has developed a software that can transcribe a book into Braille faster - four days for a 50-page book that would otherwise take three months. "Neither the author nor the publishers have asked for royalties," said Sohani.