A tech fair with difference
It was unlike any other technology fair.
There was no flashy gadget, no super brand presence and yet it was one of most unique exhibitions held in Bangladesh.
Organised by CDD (Centre for Disability in Development) and Daffodil International University, a 2-day exhibition was held for disabled people with the title "International Exhibition 2012: Technology for disabled people and their access to ICT" in the university auditorium.
The exhibition showcased and demonstrated technologies that are available for people with different types of disabilities such as visual, low vision, dyslexia, speech and hearing, cerebral palsy, autism, cognitive and physical impairment.
An orientation about the assistive technology products was given by Ram Agarwal, CEO, Karishma Enterprises.
Agarwal, in a brief interview at the event, said they have come here at the invitation of CDD.
"This exhibition is aimed at dissemination of information on assistive technology available worldwide to Bangladeshis with live demonstration so that they can witness the technology and they can help themselves by adopting this technology in their education and employment," Agarwal said.
He said headquartered in Mumbai, Karishma Enterprises has been in this field for last 20 years.
He also informed that they have recently installed heavy-duty volume production Braille printer at Braille Press in Tongi.
Agarwal said Karishma Enterprises does not manufacture the products. They resource all these assistive technologies from different countries all around the world and make them available to the people of the entire South Asia region --
Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan.
They also export these products to Africa as well.
"The major portion of the software and devices come from USA and some come from UK, Ireland, China, Japan as well," said Agarwal.
He said the prices depend on the product starting from $50 to $4000-5000.
Agarwal said they are looking at partnering with CDD to provide the assistive technology in Bangladesh.
He also informed that CDD is planning to set up centre of excellence, which will be research centre for the welfare of Bangladeshi people and provide all the support and technologies to disabled people.
At the fair Karishma showed quite a few text reading devices for visually challenged people.
The event also demonstrated some talking software to use computer, do math, and use mobile phone.
There are number of devices under the Daisy talking book recorders and players for creating and listening navigation friendly Daisy format talking books.
For people with low vision, there are vision assessment software, magnification devices and software that magnify computer screen to help the people with low vision. There are also portable and hand held video magnifiers for low vision people.
Karishma Enterprises also showed different types of assistive technologies for Braille, which convert printed text to embossed Braille dots.
For Dyslexia and slow learners Karishma has WYNN Wizard with reading, writing and studying software.
Karishma also showed software and devices for Autism.
There are PC Eye Control device, 5 Finger Typist, voice recognition software and some other devices for people with cerebral palsy, locomotive and physical impairment.
For hearing impairment, Karishma has wireless FM assistive listening system and some other useful and easy to use devices.
For speech impairment they have speech devices that use voice message using pictures or play back pre-recorded messages or execute infra-red signals by touching printed pictures on it.
While talking to Broja Gopal Saha, coordinator, Projects and ICT, CDD about fair, he said although they got satisfactory response from people, it should have been promoted more.
"We could not reach more people because of some factors," Saha said adding "we had to organise it in 10-12 days."
CDD will organise such exhibition again if they get the support.
He said that if anyone wants to buy any assistive product, he or she should contact Karisha through their website (karishmaenterprises.com) and if anyone needs any guidance, CDD will provide that.
Manusher Jonno Foundation supported CDD to organise this unique exhibition.