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Country's first-ever radio channel for the visually impaired, named 'Radio Aksh' has been launched in Nagpur, with the Blind Relief Association Nagpur and Samdrushti Kshamata Vikas Avam Anusandhan Mandal (Saksham) serving as the pioneers of the concept that will help the visually-impaired gain seamless access to education resources and audiobooks.

This concept was created as a substitute for audiobooks provided by Samdrushti Kshamata Vikas Avam Anusandhan Mandal to the visually impaired on their digital devices, access to which was cut off due to the COVID-19 pandemic due to restrictions on travelling.

Educational resources encompassing a variety of subjects are made available through this platform on digital platforms owned by visually-impaired people, who can access this vast bank of information from anywhere as unlike the FM and AM Radio, the technology of Internet Radio is used, which knows no geographical limitations.

A dedicated team of trained volunteers, mostly women, help in the creation of content for the radio channel, which can be streamed to the visually impaired across India and the world. The complex, carefully-performed processes of going through large amounts of content, recording, sound editing and making corrections do not dampen the productivity and the sense of servitude guides the entire team.

Shirish Darvekar, the coordinator of the channel and a member of Samdrushti Kshamata Vikas Avam Anusandhan Mandal told ANI, "For the last few years, visually impaired people used to come to us and get their audiobooks made by us on their devices. But COVID-19 put this to a halt. It affected their learning so we had to think of a stand-by arrangement. We got to know of launch of Internet Radio in India and we got in contact with a company making softwares for it. Though our requirements were unique to them, they promised cooperation. This is perhaps the first Internet Radio for the visually-impaired."

"Unlike FM and AM, Internet Radio has no geographical limits. Content is pre-recorded. We have presenter each for various subjects covered on the radio. We have a team of 20 people, mostly women who are housewives. They are trained and know their work well. No one is paid, all have a sense of servitude," he added.

Darvekar said that their channel has got limited, yet an overwhelming response from people and said that the service will be more widespread in coming days and informed that the channel is available on Play Store and via Zeno Radio on Apple devices.

"In just two to four days, we have around 161 listeners. It paints a very encouraging picture," he added.

One of the volunteers working for the channel said, "Doing such things for the visually impaired gives me joy. They can study from their homes via Radio Aksh. I get some leisure time for this and contribute one or two hours in the noon every day for this."

One of the beneficiaries of the channel pointed out to ANI that the radio channel serves as a great advantage as books in Braille scripts are not always available.

"Now we will get more information and our studies will get easier. We get a feeling as if we are attending classes inside a classroom. It is a great initiative for the visually impaired," he added.

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