Trestle Labs: A Startup providing an Immersive Learning experience to our Visually impaired friends

By auther pic. Smita Singh

August 11, 2020

Trestle Labs: A Startup providing an Immersive Learning experience to our Visually impaired friends

User Using a Kibo App

Assistance and Support through Technological Development is the best way to summarize the purpose of Trestle Labs. This organization has become the epitome of unhindered support through innovation and technological advancement. Their impact on some of the underprivileged strata of our society is a source of immense motivation for budding entrepreneurs in this field.

In India, the statistics related to Education of the visually impaired are shocking. After 10th standard, Braille books are not available and these students have to depend solely on Audio-recording of books which typically takes 4-6 weeks for any 300-page book. This is the situation of specialized schools for the blind and in case of inclusive schools, there is a scarcity of accurate tools that can help visually-impaired students understand their reference material, books etc.

The employment scenario is much more daunting as a large percentage of the employable visually impaired job seekers are unemployed. Apart from this, those who are employed and working have difficulties in interpreting various daily documents and instructions as they are either in printed, handwritten or digital format. Very limited steps have been taken towards this across both government and private sector to enhance the work productivity of their Visually-disabled employees. As for the numbers, in India, an odd 57 million Visually-impaired people lack equal Education and Employment opportunities as they cannot access Printed, Handwritten and Digital content on their own.


Classroom for Visually-impaired

Trestle Labs aims to bridge this gap and help the blind and visually-impaired community by providing real-time access to printed, handwritten and digital content through audio across multiple Indian and Foreign languages.

Digital Impact Square- A TCS Foundation Social Pre-incubation Centre was the place of connection for three motivated individuals striving towards creating a change in the society– Akshita Sachdeva, Bonny Dave and Abhishek Baghel.During the3rd Year ofherB.Tech in Computer Science, Akshita had developed a reading and mobility device for the blind as part of her college project. She had some emotional moments when she took it to a Blind School in Delhi and blind kid was delighted to read and navigate on his own. This inspired Akshita to empower the Visually-impaired community by leveraging her technical skills. Bonny, who was a volunteer at Blind People’s Association during his 3rd semester of Mechanical Engineering created a single-cell Refreshable Braille Display project and presented it to various blind students there. He wanted to replace the heavy Braille books through his project. Abhishek - another founder had such an experience when he met Akash, a visually impaired student preparing for Banking Exam. Since Akash did not have adequate access to preparation material Abhishek wanted to create something that helps him.

All three had a common inspiration and a collaborated motive of empowering the visually-impaired to be able to read and access information independently and not be dependent of what the world can make accessible for them.


Kibo Products

The Kibo App which was launched in July 2019, has reached more than 18,000+ visually impaired people across 16 states in India and 15 countries worldwide. A whopping 1 million documents have been read and the engagement time has crossed 8 million+ minutes. The Kibo XS Device is also being used by more than 100 institutions throughout India and all users are extremely delighted by the ease of use and capabilities provided by Kibo.

Many Visually Impaired students have provided testimony of how Kibo is helping them in their higher-education and competitive-exam preparation while some usually Impaired teachers even use this for teaching and assessing handwritten answer sheets of their students. All this points to the fact that the value addition made by Trestle Labs in the lives of visually impaired is nothing short of unthinkable brilliance.

Assistive Technologies is a sector that is seeing various new start-ups and the anticipated attention not only from the government but also from investors. This promises a much more advanced and helpful future.


KIBO- Access Ability Zone

Kibo has become a one-stop solution to access any kind of printed, digital and even handwritten content in audio format. This makes it a much popular and useful platform for all visually impaired. The Kibo XS Device is not only affordably priced, but the team has gone on to raise some subsidy support for NGOs, Visually-impaired individuals and donors who want to donate KiboXS.Both the application and Device has differentiating elements, some of which are:

  • Ability to read printed, handwritten and digital text across multiple Indian and overseas languages in real-time through audio
  • Translate and listen/read documents across 100+ languages in real-time
  • Download both Original as well as Translated documents in Editable Unicode formats – doc, docx, txt
  • Take audio-notes while listening to the text and sharing it with friends and peers
  • The COVID-19 onset has benefited the operations at Trestle Labs as they saw a 2xgrowth in the daily active users and an increased engagement time on Kibo app. Trestle Labs also organized various webinars and online events to create a sustainable Digital Audience along with various NGO partners such as Bookshare, Blind People’s Association, NAB Delhi, etc. Going forward, they are looking to partner with organizations and individuals both in India and overseas to expand their impact to diverse geography.

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    Impact-Story is a series on development and CSR interventions leading to some impacts on the ground. If you have a project, innovation or intervention that has changed the lives of a few people or a community, please share a brief note at shilpi@csrbox.org. Our Team will get back to you after validating the information for a detailed coverage.

    Also Read: Protect, Predict and Practice: Dakshas is redefining Accessibility and Affordability in Healthcare


    Smita currently finished her masters from Economics Major. Being an introvert personality, writing suits best to her. She has vivid experience in the content area from writing research papers to writing content for various websites, blogs & stories. Smita has worked for a Patna based digital marketing company named DigiwaleBabu.


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