On Saturday,Cubing for the Visually Challenged.
(Write-Up on Amit Ramchandani’s (Grade XI A) efforts to teach the visually challenged)
Amit’s interest in training the visually impaired children was first ignited in 2016 when he was in Grade 7. He is an avid Rubik’s cube solver and used to participate in Rubik’s cube events and competitions. However, this meant travelling to locations outside Pune, which was both time consuming and expensive. So in 2016 he approached the managing committee of the Roseland Residency Cooperative Housing Society (where he lives) and suggested the idea of conducting a Rubik’s cube event in their community hall, He was in Grade 6 at that time and the management extended their support to his idea. In fact the local area corporator, Mr Vitthal Kate also felicitated his endeavour.
Cubing for Good: Training Visually Impaired Kids
The turning point came in 2018, when Amit trained two partially blind students of the Poona Blind School to solve the 3X3 Rubik’s cube. Not only did they learn the algorithms very quickly but they thoroughly enjoyed the experience. That experience changed Amit’s perception about the process and made him realize the relevance of the Rubik’s cubes puzzles for the visually impaired.
He also found that kids in his school that were typically classified as “hyper” also found Rubik’s cube puzzles interesting and this helped such kids to concentrate for a longer time. Such kids would look forward to getting their Rubik’s cube queries solved during the school breaks and after school. Several times a week, Amit would end up staying back for about an hour helping them. During the Covid19 lockdown period he conducted online sessions for three fully blind kids. For this purpose he trained himself to solve the braille Rubik’s cube because he wanted to understand to whatever extent possible, the challenges that fully blind students face while figuring out the braille cube puzzle.
The Way Ahead:
Amit would like “Cubing for Good” to become a movement led by students so as to reach the millions visually impaired all over India. He realizes that there are many visually challenged kids who can benefit by solving different Rubik’s puzzles – and also get acquainted to geometry concepts in a fun manner. Since such cubes and puzzles are imported they are expensive and this can become a challenge for kids from economically stressed backgrounds.
On the other hand there are many kids who have cubes which are lying unused. He knows the procedure for cleaning and refurbishing the cubes/puzzles. So he can fix old/used cubes and these can be directed to the lesser priviledged and the visually impaired.
Reusing cubes can also help put them to good use and prevent plastic from reaching landfills. Plastic eventually breaks down into small pieces and enters the food chain as well as contributes towards global warming. Training students who are interested in contributing towards this cause can help in widening the reach by connecting with more visually impaired kids as well as help towards contributing towards the following UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
(https://www.ufi.org/industry-resources/sustainable-development/un-sdg-reporting/) SDG Goal No 9: Industry Innovation & Infrastructure, SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities, SDG 11: Sustainable Cities &Communities, SDG 17: Partnership for the Goals and this innovation , SDG 13: Climate action and indirectly addresses SDG 3: Good Health & Wellbeing.
Hyderabad is the ideal location to start this initiative due to the presence of reputed eye hospitals such as L.V Prasad as well as NGOs like India Vision Institute. Amit is keen on finding a way to manufacture low cost “Made in India” Rubik’s cubes preferably made from recycled material so as to make it possible for all the blind schools and students to be able to get access to them.