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GDPL of Kota facilitates voice donations to help visually impaired students read KOTA: A Government

KOTA: A Government Public Divisional Library (GPDL) of Kota has taken a unique initiative of facilitating voice donations from people for helping visually impaired students and senior citizens read books in audio.

GPDL has prepared a database of over 1000 voice donors, including library readers, voice-over artists, and theater artists. Other 40 voice donors have already donated their total 120 voice recordings for helping the visually impaired and senior citizens read books.

Students like Akshita (19) are among the beneficiary of the voice donation facility of the GPDL.

Narrating the story of how the voice donation initiative began, the GPDL Divisional Librarian, Dr. Deepak Shrivastava, says that the facility is proving to be a boon for visually impaired people like Akshita (19).

People can recite any book or chapter and donate its recording to the GDPL were visually impaired, and senior citizens can listen to such voice recordings.

Along with her mother and brother, Akshita landed in the Government Public Divisional Library of Kota a couple of years ago after learning that GPDL has a Library service for the blind.

The Divisional librarian, Dr. Deepak Kumar Shrivastava, took them to the library’s brand new Braille division. The librarian asked Akshita to go through their roster of 200 books, but Akshita, in despair, said that she didn't know Braille.

Dr. Deepak Shrivastava said, “As 4.1% of the blind in India don’t know Braille, our library has PlexTalk Vachak-1 facility, through which books are automatically converted to voice."

However, Akshita expressed another problem.

“I want to load all my academic books on my phone and laptop. Could you give them to me as mp3s?” she asked.

Dr. Deepak figured out a solution and started reading a chapter a day, and even then, it took him seven days to digitize half a book. Soon, a reader joined Dr. Deepak in reading the chapters. However, it was not fast enough to be in time for Akshita’s preparation for her exams.

So, the public library initiated the Voice Donation Programme and asked readers to help read out the course books to digitize them as mp3 files for Akshita.

Nearly 20 people volunteered with their voice donations and finished her entire course material within a month, after which Akshita scored 78% in her class 10 examination.

“Voice donations from generous people helped me finish my course and pass the class 10 examinations with flying colors,” Said Akshita.

Dr. Deepak Shrivastava says, “We are making a database of the voice donors and keeping audio recordings prepared by voice donors, which will be provided to the needy visually impaired or senior citizens online.”

“We have nearly 120 voice files of chapters of class 9, 10 and 12, which are sent to the needy visually impaired students for studies,” he said.

Even voice donors are being asked to send recitations of poems and stories through email, pen drive and voice memos from mobile phones to the library so that other visually impaired and senior citizens can also listen to them, he said.

A certificate of voice donation would be provided to every voice donor, said Dr. Deepak.

One voice donor named Nisha Gupta (23) says, “I am a regular visitor to the GPDL where I came across this voice donation facility”.

“It was a very beautiful feeling to record recitations of books for helping visually impaired and senior citizens who find it difficult to read books from their eyes.”

Today, the library consists of a rich reference section for researchers, Instant Braille Conversion and Text to Speech Conversion service for the visually challenged, a collection of audiobooks, Books on Screen facility, an Instant Book Reading Machine facility, a Differently Abled section, an outreach library program for the children of construction laborers, and a Reprography facility along with the 70, 639 books roster, as well as 1564 rare old books.