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Carnegie students conduct research for blind in B'glore

Dubai, Aug 2, 2013: A group of students from US-based Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) are in India to conduct research projects to benefit the visually impaired under the university's summer internship programme.

Eight students from the CMU's Pittsburgh and Doha campuses are spending the summer in Bangalore after being selected for the 2013 'iSTEP' (innovative Student Technology ExPerience) internship, it was announced here on Thursday.

'iSTEP' provides students the opportunity to conduct technology research projects in underserved communities around the world. The 2013 team is working on several projects that support blind students who are learning to write the braille script. They are further developing a software device connected to a computer that allows blind students to learn the placement of the different dots in a braille cell.

Aveed Sheikh, a business administration student at CMU, Qatar has moved to Bangalore with fellow Pittsburgh teammates -- Madeleine Clute, Maddie Gioffre, Poornima Kaniarasu, Aditya Kodkany, Vivek Nair, Shree Lakshmi Rao and Avia Weinstein to working in partnership with the Mathru Educational Trust for the Blind.  "It is a wonderful learning experience to work with a multi-talented international CMU team to make a positive difference," Aveed said.

Blind students can also learn to write braille through different games and exercise using a slate and stylus. The device provides instant audio feedback based on the user's input and also corrects mistakes.  The interns are working on enhancing existing modes on the Braille Writing Tutor (BWT) software by introducing Kannada (local language) and Hindi Braille, besides mathematics.

The interns will assess the needs of the new multi-disability centre and handover the results to the iSTEP 2014 team, who are planning to return to Bangalore next summer to work with the Mathru Educational Trust on new projects.  Carnegie Mellon University is a global research university with more than 12,000 students, 95,000 alumni, and 5,000 faculty and staff. It has campuses in Pittsburgh, Qatar and Silicon Valley, and degree-granting programmes around the world.

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