Students develop electronic Dzongkha braille

A group of former students from the College of Science and Technology have created Bhutan’s first-ever prototype of electronic Dzongkha Braille – called Digital Dzongkha Braille Board.

According to The Bhutan Live, initially, it was a college project, however, the innovation of young people has evolved into a passion to help the visually impaired people in reading and writing Dzongkha.

The group of young people – 24-year-old Mani Kumar Basnet, 25-year-old Ugyen Tshering, 24-year-old Sonam Wangmo and 23-year-old Garab Gyeltshen decided to have Digital Dzongkha Braille Board as a project for the final year of their Bachelor’s in Electronic and Communication Engineering course at the College of Science and Technology. However, the college project turned into a passion.

The aim of young people was fuelled by the lack of accessible Dzongkha electronic Braille machines and the high price of Braille devices available in other nations. The device developed by young people features six buttons that enable users to effortlessly write Braille alphabets.

The device converts the input into an audible sound or tactile pop-up that can be read by touch, providing multiple ways for the visually impaired to interact with the text.

Mani Kumar Basnet, one of the team members, said, “We always thought of working with assistive technology to help those in need. We decided to help the visually impaired. While researching, we found that there are lots of devices to help the visually impaired, but we saw that they were also very expensive. So, we thought that we could develop one for our own country, why not even in Dzongkha since there are no such devices in Dzongkha,” according to The Bhutan Live report.

Less than Nu 15,000 have been used to develop the prototype. The team has planned to further reduce the price to less than Nu 10,000 to make it accessible to more people.

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