Visually impaired Nigerians are learning to read thanks to a start-up

In Nigeria, young people have developed a start-up called “Vinsighte” to help the visually impaired. The start-up uses technology to help these patients read, thanks to several products, including “smart” reading glasses that convert text to sound.

Meshach Odion goes to a computer class at his school library. The 17-year-old attends a school for visually impaired children in the Nigerian megacity Lagos. Blind from birth, the budding musician was worried about what the world had in store for him with braille as his only means of reading.

Today, he can take advantage of technology that has come with an app that can help him read more easily.

“Actually, I’d prefer this app because there’s a lot of stuff I want to see there, and maybe it won’t be in braille, it’ll be visible. So this app will help me recognize it,” e.g.explains Meshach Odion.

Meshach Odion’s renewed hope is due to a Nigerian start-up called Vinsighte. The team has developed several products, including a mobile application that translates text to sound. Vinsighte CEO Kolawole Tomi explains that this software is being turned into hardware glasses.

“The glasses use basically the same technology as the software, but at an optimized level. And what these glasses basically do is help the visually impaired to be able to read or identify objects and colors that surround them, and also identify currency. And also over time, glasses can help improve visual acuity”, says Kolawole Tomi, CEO of Vinsighte Software.

Kolawole Tomi says he became curious about how technology could help the visually impaired after an acquaintance at university told him about a friend who had been forced to drop out of school [à cause de la cécité]. Just over 15% of the world’s blind population lives in Africa, according to the World Health Organization.

These people often lack the resources and support needed to succeed in school and in everyday life. According to the organizer, Vinsighte’s products are used in schools and institutions and have already reached around 5,000 people.

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