On the occasion of Louis Braille’s 207th birth anniversary, All India Radio (AIR) Pune held a special news broadcast in which for the first time they got a blind representative to read the news bulletin in Braille.
Louis Braille was a French educator who had invented the system of reading and writing that could be used by the blind or visually-impaired people back in 1824.
To dedicate a special bulletin in Braille, AIR on Monday morning started their routine broadcast with presenter Manoj Kshirsagar reading the regional news bulletin at 7.10 am. Halfway into his bulletin, Kshirsagar announced that for the rest of the bulletin, he was passing on the microphone to Dhanraj Patil, who was a representative of Pune Blind Men’s Association and was going to read the rest of the news bulletin in Braille.
Taking over the mic, Patil not only finished the news in perfect fashion, but also surprised Kshirsagar and rest of the staff present at the AIR with his presentation.
Talking in awe about Patil’s presentation, Kshirsagar said:
“It takes people months to catch the right speed and tone; but he did it with precision.”
To make this news bulletin possible, special arrangements were made in the studio so as to make sure that Patil faced no problem.
Speaking on the occasion of Louis Braille’s birth anniversary and their reason for calling Patil, Nitin Kelkar, Director News, AIR Pune, said:
“On Louis Braille’s birth anniversary last year, AIR Ahmedabad had invited representatives of the visually-impaired community to read out the news in braille. Usually, we don’t take people as news anchors until we certify the quality of their voice. But when we heard Patil’s voice, we were happy. Our only concern was that he won’t be able to read or write the news rapidly, as we have to update the list in the morning….He read the news from 7.15 am to 7.20 am, before handing over again to Kshirsagar, who then concluded the bulletin.”
Not only was Patil able to keep up with what was required, but his session got a tremendous response, with AIR receiving many congratulatory calls from across Maharashtra.
Last year on October 2, AIR Pune, on the occasion of their foundation day had even organised a rally for visually-challenged people from Shaniwarwada to their Shivajinagar office and got a good response. India has the world’s highest population of blind people and though over the years, the blind and visually impaired people have conquered almost all the fields like civil services, government, private companies, banks, education sector, etc. this was the first time that a visually impaired person read out news bulletin in Marathi on live radio.
Patil, at present works as the editor of Antar Jyoti magazine post his retirement. Till 2011 he used to teach languages and philosophy to the prisoners in Yerawada jail and had written Dnayneshwari in Braille.
Talking about his experience with AIR and its preparation, Patil said:
“When our president, Niranjan Pandya, told me that I’ve been selected for the session, I felt happy as well as nervous. It is difficult to match the speed and diction of AIR presenters. I used to record their voices and listen to how they stress upon words or pause at the right place.”