The Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired Students of Dhaka University is a study centre for the blind students of the university. Located on the ground floor of the administrative building of the university’s Central Library, it was established in 2007 through a joint initiative by the DU authority and Sight Savers International; an NGO that works for visually impaired students worldwide.
Everyday at least 20 visually impaired students come to the centre for studying or doing their departmental assignments. The centre is open for the visually impaired every weekday from 8am to 9pm.
This is the place where DU blind students can use library resources using specially designed study materials. Almost all the study materials in the resource centre are in Braille, a method that is globally used by visually impaired persons to read and write.
The resource centre, which is staffed by 4 visually impaired persons, has a collections of 23 books in Braille of different departments, 2 Braille typewriter machine, 27 lines Braille guide (a writing frame through which students can write in Braille), Braille stylus (a special pen to write in Braille) and an impressive collection of cassettes and CDs.
The resource centre also contains a number of modern machineries which have made learning process much easier for the visually impaired, for example computers with screen reader software installed in them, namely JAWS talking, which provides the users with access to the information displayed on the screen via text-to-speech or by means of a Braille display. It also allows users to perform comprehensive keyboard functions with the computers.
The library also has a collection of 3 digital computers, scanners, Braille printer, Plextalk CD (a specialised machine where visually impaired students can record sound and listen from the audio), tape recorders and other useful tools.
However the resource centre accommodates only 10 students at a time, whereas the total number of visually impaired students enrolled at the university is almost 60. Moreover the number of braille books is not enough and most of them are backdated editions.
Md Sarower Hossen Khan, assistant librarian of DU central library and also a visually impaired person who works at the resource centre, shared his experience with UNB saying, “I have completed my graduation and post-graduation from this university. When we were students this center was not established and we faced many problems.”
“After completing my studies I have joined here and I think this is the best decision of my life as it lets me stay in touch with all the visually impaired students at DU. The most notable matter is that the staff here are also visually impaired, which is why they have a better understanding about the problems that the students who come here suffer from,” he added.
Professor SM Zabed, librarian of DU central library admitted that they have some limitations and said, “We started this resource centre with a very small scope, but now we are trying to enrich it so that it can become more useful for these students.”
Asking about the shortage of Braille book, Prof Zabed said, “Braille books and printers are quite expensive. We have some financial limitations, that’s why we can’t buy new books and printers. But we are contacting some organisations working for the visually impaired to promote the resource centre. We are hopeful that some help will be forthcoming soon.”