Travelling by Delhi’s bustling metro network is a challenge even for able-bodied commuters. So, a group of researchers from IIT-Delhi has come up with a unique map that will help visually impaired people navigate across the mass transit system.
Encompassing all the operational metro lines, the map uses different textures of dotted and broken lines to represent the existing routes. The project is yet to be tested on real-time users. The team of students, researchers and professors named Assistech has mapped the colours of the metro lines with textures for blind people to understand the routes with their sensitive fingers.
“Allocation of stations was difficult because we first tried on an A4 sheet but it looked cluttered. So, from there we experimented on A3 sheet. We are also looking at the possibilities of making it easy to fit in a pocket,” Kunal Kawatra, a student at IIT and first designer of the map, told Mail Today.
Not free from its own set of challenges, the intricacies of the map involved extra work. “There was a looming complexity of placing stations accurately within a limited space and writing the station names in Braille because there isn’t enough space on a sheet so we had to create keys using initials,” Kawatra said.
HOW IT STARTED
“When we first thought of this project, we tested it using only the blue line of Delhi Metro that operates from Noida City Centre/ Vaishali to Dwarka Sector 21,” Kawatra added.
“It was an eye-opener for us because the visually impaired respondents were able to perceive the diagram well and said that it was new for them, almost like a wow-factor. After this response, we started working on the rest of the map,” he further said.
If the map clears extensive testing, it could help blind people access Delhi Metro better.
DMRC OPEN TO IDEAS
“DMRC is always open to taking any measure that helps our differently abled passengers. If we receive any proposal or idea that can benefit our commuters, we will surely analyse it with a positive intent,” a DMRC official told Mail Today.
“Our initiative was born out of one primary reason, i.e., blind students face challenges when it comes to diagrams. Owing to this, they cannot opt for engineering. Even science and mathematics as subjects are made optional in high school,” Professor M Balakrishnan, professor in IIT Delhi’s computer science department told Mail Today.
HOW IT ALL HAPPENED
A team of researchers from the Centre of Excellence in Tactile Graphics, employed in this project, has branched an initiative, apart from primarily providing textbooks to students. “We initially worked on maths and science textbooks. Books are indispensable for a student and hence his or her choices should not be restricted,” Balakrishnan said.
Explaining the dire need to come up with tactile technology, students working on the project said alternatives are available in the international domain but they pinch the pocket.
“The method to provide books is expensive because the technology used abroad costs us Rs 40-50 per page, which ultimately makes a book cost Rs 4,000-5000,” Piyush Chanana, a team researcher, said.
“We work to make these products scalable and affordable and eliminate the troubles a blind person goes through,” Chanana added. The research team also comprises visually impaired students, who not only work in the project, but also test, review and suggest improvements in the same.
News Source: India Today