What makes frequent readers – Scholastic Report

We came across this annual report published by Scholastic today and it got us thinking. We made so many technological advances over the years. But till date we have not been able to give the pleasure of the ability to read to blind/visually impaired community. We have hidden behind the text to audio advancements and made our technologies accessible. But its not the same as reading. See this report from Scholastic (infographic), what do you see?

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Now let us compare the cost of this simple pleasure for a family who has a blind child and wants to give this simple pleasure of education which is at par with someone who is sighted.This information is shared with us by a mom of a very talented and gifted son from Texas. We are withholding the identity for now, but this is from an email that we received and after subsequent phone discussions we found out about the jaw dropping numbers.The family spends approximately $30,000/year on education for their son. This year they are looking to spend an additional $14,000 on a braille printer and software. The mother attended special training classes to operate the software which is very complicated. This is to help her son at home and provide for his education need. Since, finding expert braille transcribers is very difficult. The cost for his books this year will be an additional $5000. This is an astounding number and due to our lack of interest in providing cheaper solution, we have contributed to 90% illiteracy rate in braille and about 4% of blind students actually making it to college. Now let us give the benefit of doubt to the text to audio technology and look at the Scholastic survey report about reading aloud. The frequency of interest decreases over the years.We are back to our original statement – reading is not the same as listening. The pleasure of reading can be developed from childhood that withstands the time as we grow into an adult. Hope we could do more for the visually impaired and look at this as an opportunity to change. Not investing on technology by just mentioning that the market size is not big, is not an answer. Let us come together to make this change happen.

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