Cape Town 130207- Andiswa Qokoba from Athlone school for the blind tests the new devices. Minister of Education Donald Grant handed over Braille note pad and Eye pal at Athlone school for the blind. It is going to improve the quality of learning for visually impaired learners. Picture Cindy waxa.Reporter yolisa/Argus

Johannesburg - New devices to convert printed text to Braille are being used successfully at two Western Cape schools.

The Athlone School for the Blind in Bellville South and the Pioneer School in Worcester have received the devices – an e-Braille portable computer, a device for scanning and reading printed text, and a portable MP3 player so that blind users can listen to audio books.

Outgoing Western Cape Education MEC Donald Grant visited the Bellville South school to see how the devices are being used.

They were piloted last year, and the department has since expanded the use of the technology in the two schools.

Grant had the chance to sit down in front of a machine and learn how to use it.

Fletcher Fisher, Athlone’s principal, said the machines each cost about R57 000.

“The cost benefit of this is huge, especially (compared with) the traditional cost of producing Braille books. This is the way to go.”

He added that it would cost about R3-million to R4m to produce the books each pupil needed in their 12 years of schooling.

Kyle Williams, 21, who trained the pupils in grades 4 to 11 to use the e-Braille portable computer, described it as “an amazing tool”.

“It is going to mean so much. They have notes instantly. They will definitely be able to study better.”

Williams said pupils in grades 1 to 3 had training in Braille and then came to him for training to use the machine.

On the cost of the machine, Williams said: “This is not expensive. We’re not investing in something for now.

“We’re investing in someone’s future.” - The Star