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Vietnamese student’s reading machine to bring joy to the blind

Update: October, 26/2018 - 08:00
Lê Nguyễn Ngọc Thạch and Nguyễn Thanh Trung from Kon Tum Province in their school’s lab. — VNA/VNS Photo Hồng Điệp
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY — The blind and visually challenged will soon be able to buy a reading machine invented by a HCM City student.

The device is the brainchild of Nguyễn Thanh Trung, a second-year student at HCM City University of Information Technology.

His reading machine was awarded the bronze medal at the International Exhibition for Young Inventors in India from October 16-22, an annual event for youths to exhibit their creativity in invention and innovation.

The machine also won first prize at the 13th nationwide Children’s Innovation Competition in 2017 when he studied at Nguyễn Tất Thành High School in Kon Tum Province.

Trung said many visually impaired people in Việt Nam want to read books, newspapers and other kinds of documents. However, there are few supporting tools available to them. Braille books and reading machines remain unpopular in Việt Nam because of the cost. 

According to a report of the Central Eye Hospital, there are about two million people with visual impairments in Việt Nam.

“One day, I came to the Social Protection Centre in Kon Tum Province and met a blind friend. He is good at learning and enjoys reading. However, I find that there are few books for the blind, especially in rural areas,” Trung told Thanh Niên (Young People) newspaper.

“I started thinking about what I need to do to help blind people read books and documents easier.”

According to Trung, similar machines are available but the price tags of about US$2,000-3,000 (VNĐ46-69 million) make them inaccessible to most people.

He decided to make a cheaper and simpler one but still works well, he claimed.

Trung and his friend Lê Nguyễn Ngọc Thạch worked on the product for about six months before it was completed.

Their product is made of simple plastic material with similar size as an iPad.

The upper surface of the machine is designed with a keyboard with raised dots to help the blind read text.

The reading machine, a piece of assistive technology that allows blind people to access printed materials, scans text and converts it into Braille.

It not only helps visually impaired people access books and newspapers, they also get access to more types of documents.

Trung said, initially, they had many difficulties due to lack of technological knowledge, while having to find the right kind of engine at a cheap price.

"We completed the project with help from the teachers of Nguyễn Tất Thành High School.”

“When we study at the university, we are able to learn and read more knowledge on information technology, so we improved the product to be better to attend the international exhibition in India," Trung said.

Trung and his friend made this machine for a cost of VNĐ500,000 ($21.7), though when sold the price will be higher.

The school’s teachers and students were honoured to be associated with the innovation, said Phan Đức, principal of Nguyễn Tất Thành School.

It was also awarded second prize in the Science and Technology Creation Contest organised by the Ministry of Education and Training in 2017, Đức said.

After improving the features of the machine, Trung hopes the product will soon be produced so visually impaired people can buy it easily.

“At the exhibition in India, I realised the world is very large and has many good things to teach us. Young people should read more, do as much as possible and train themselves. It will help them to have more creativity,” said Trung, adding that deeper knowledge allows people to do greater work. — VNS

 

 

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