Vidya Vrikshah is an association of people drawn together, by devotion to the free spread of knowledge, much, as the name suggests, like a tree that gives freely to anyone seeking it's shade and fruit. The activities of Vidya Vrikshah  rest on participation of anyone who subscribes to it's objective of the free spread of knowledge.

In seeking to promote the free spread of knowledge, Vidya Vrikshah takes it's guidelines from our ancient texts. The Krishna Yajur Veda (Taittiriya Samhita -VI-3.10.5) teaches us that we are all born with three debts, one to the gods, the second to our ancestors and the third to our ancient seers. The last debt is that of knowledge that the seers have bequeathed to us. This teaching implies that our present lives must be used to repay these debts. Our ancient tradition also tells us that the free spread of knowledge is a great way of doing so. The Gita declares (3-12) that one who has received anything from the world but has not given back anything in return, is no more than a thief. And the Sukla Yajur Veda prescribes (XXVI-2) that knowledge must be passed on to all without distinction of sex, caste or race.




Vidya Vrikshah is a Voluntary Service Organization based in Chennai,. It was started in 1999 and registered as a non-profit, Public Charitable Trust. (Vide - Document No 149/4 dated 25-02-1999 registered in the Office of the Sub-Registrar, Mylapore, Chennai)


Vidya Vrikshah is administered by a Board of   Trustees comprised of   :

Founder-Chairman   : N.Krishnaswamy IPS (Retd), Former IG of Police, Tamilnadu.

Founder Trustee       : Dr.C.L.Ramakrishnan IPS (Retd), Former DGP, Tamilnadu

Founder-Member      : Dr. R. Kalyanakrishnan, Professor, IIT Chennai

Managing Trustee    : K.V.S.Gopalakrishnan IPS (Retd) Former Spl Director, I.B., N.Delhi

Member                     :  Dr.. Uma Krishnaswamy, Consultant Breast Surgeon

Member-Secretary  :   Dr.V.Aravind, Professor& Dental Surgeon

Member                      :  Dr. Alamelu Ramakrishnan, Housewife

Member                     :  Dr Rama Venkataraman, Housewife

Member                     :  Mythili Gopalakrishnan, Housewife 

Member                     :  N.Venkataraman, Manager Worth Trust.




Vidya Vrikshah is committed to the spread of knowledge in two broad perspectives :

  1. Ancient Indian contributions to knowledge for all time; and
  2. Modern Global initiatives for education across disability


The first perspective addresses a need for preservation and dissemination for the benefit of contemporary society, of the rich ancient heritage of Indian culture going back to over three millenia and coming to us in a remarkably preserved oral tradition and also through inscriptions in stone, metal and palm leaves. All this will speak for itself through the relevant presentations in this website. The second perspective however, calls for some introductory elaboration here. This objective here is to bring literacy, education, and training for early preventive intervention and rehabilitation skills, free and at their door-step, to the millions of socially and physically disadvantaged, specially the visually impaired, using all ossible methods, old and new, including the latest tools of Information Technology wherever possible.


Vidya Vrikshah is unusual and unconventional in respect of its organization and methods for the implementation of its objectives, The key elements here that all the needed resources of money, material, time and effort for the conduct its activities are shared or contributed by its Volunteers and its two partner organizations, one from Academia and the other from   Industry, in such a way that Vidya Vrikshah’s public donation income can be applied in its entirety to reach end-beneficiaries.


Details of how these two partner organizations, viz. IIT Chennai, and Worth Trust, Katpadi,  supported   Vidya Vrikshah,  in what may well constitute a unique and one of its kind   approach in India, are set out below.




In 1998 Dr. R.Kalyanakrishnan, Professor in   Department of Computer Science, assisted by a team of his students, had developed a path-breaking Software Package that provided a uniform and easy-to-learn way of using PCs in all Indian languages. The Package provided support for voice and braille output in any of these languages, so that anyone, sighted or blind, could use computers. This package was designed to enable children in schools in India, to use of Computers for education in whatever local language was the medium of instruction, and thereby overcome a prevailing constraint, where all computers were tied down to the use of English.


This development came from a conscious contribution by this IIT team to make Information Technology relevant to the educational needs of the country and thus  give back to the country something substantial in return for what they themselves received from the country by way of the high level of education in the IIT. Their decision was also that the Package should be made available free of cost and thus not add to the cost overhead of use of computers by schools of the country.


The Package was a path-breaking development, in terms of both its linguistic and technical sophistication, and remains to this day in 2010, the only proven working solution of its kind. When the Package was ready for a launch, Dr.Kalyakrishnan then joined hands with Shri.N.Krishnaswamy to found Vidya Vrikshah in a new approach, resting on community participation, to visibly demonstrate its ease of use and far-reaching value. In pursuance of this, Shri Krishnaswamy provided computers and other equipment from his personal resources to set up Vidya Vrikshah’s training centre in his home garage, and mobilized and trained   a team of Volunteers – mostly educated and talented housewives -   in the use of computers and use of the Software Package. In the course of a year, this team then   used the Package to create a vast archive of high quality IT presentations of informational and educational value in local languages, which were placed on a  donated website,   Dr.Kalyanakrishnan then arranged to host a mirror of this archive on the IIT’s website, , so that he could help in it’s maintenance. The idea was to demonstrate the use of the software to support a national reach for local language based informational and educational content, at little or no added cost, through the Internet.  What is of importance here is that this is one of the unique examples in the country to   demonstrate how a National Academic   Institution of repute  like the IIT could show how Information Technology could and should be used to serve educational  objectives of the country and also how this could be accomplished   through direct community involvement.  




Worth Trust is a unique organization based in Katpadi, Tamilnadu and its name stands for WOrkshop for Rehabilitation of The Handicapped. Its uniqueness lies in that   it recruits, trains and employs disabled persons in modern machine workshop skills. It currently employs 156 disabled persons, and has 146 perons under on-the-job training. Its activities include assembly of high-tech products and sub-assemblies outsourced to them by mainstream industry, eg brake sub-assemblies from automobile industries, or   Braillers from Perkins of Boston, USA , the world leader in the manufacture of Braillers. They also engage in manufacture of a wide range of high quality disability products eg wheelchairs, white canes, and as will be detailed below,   the Universal Braille Kit.  Income surpluses from the Industry-related activities   are then used by Worth Trust to subidize its disability products and make them available to the disabled within the country at no-profit prices


Worth Trust is currently engaged in the following far-reaching projects initiated by Vidya Vrikshah.


(i)                  Production of the Universal Braille Kit (fuller details follow later) : This   is a Kit of 8 devices, some of them, new original designs of Vidya Vrikshah and some, existing standard products. The Kit is designed   to enable any literate person to learn and teach their use by blind children anywhere in India , all the elements that make for basic literacy.


(ii)                Production of  a Braille slate of a new revolutionary design that enables braille to be punched normally from left to right (instead of punching the characters laterally inverted and from right to left as in the traditional slate). Vidya Vrikshah arranged with Larry Hawk, the American inventor of the new design, to gift the expensive steel moulds for making this slate, so that it could be produced by Worth Trust at Katpadi and offered at a much lower no-profit cost in India. The new slate is now under production.


(iii)              Development of a Refreshable Braille Display on a new revolutionary design developed by Vidya Vrikshah. This may make this device available at an affordable price that could as low as one-twentieth of the prevailing market price of devices offering the same functionality and available only abroad. It is expected to launch this product  by end-2010


(iv)              The Universal E-Book Project : This is for establishing an E-book Production Centre   to support the India operations of Bookshare-USA :    Bookshare is a unique US non-profit that runs the world’s largest on-line digital library serving the blind across the world with books in accessible formats. This Production Centre is the outcome of a Vidya Vrikshah Initiative which arranged with Bookshare to launch their Bookshare–India operation through supporting a production centre under Worth Trust at Chennai. In a little over a year this Centre provided employment to 21 disabled   persons who have completed scanning / validating over 6300 books to be added to the Bookshare online collection. Work is on to develop the OCR and TTS tools to support Indian languages so that the collection will soon extend to books and publications in Indian languages.   





The following are the general operational approaches of Vidya Vrikshah :


(a) N.Krishnaswamy’s role as Founder-Chairman has been to formulate its initiatives and activities and train and guide all the Volunteers in the implementation of these initiatives and activiities. He has also personally handled the design and development of Vidya Vrikshah’s learning  devices for the blind.


(b) The activities of Vidya Vrikshah are conducted directly by the members of its Board of Trustees, by functioning also   as Working Volunteers.  They function on a  totally voluntary basis, total in the sense that they personally conduct its activities and  also at the same time,  personally share and absorb almost all the entire administrative expenditure so as   to eliminate this overhead which otherwise could   consume sizeable proportion of the financial resources. This has made it possible to apply the entirety of the Trust’s donation income to reach the end beneficiaries. A small part of this income is set aside to  accumulate in a corpus to provide an interest income to augment and / or sustain the flow of  benefit to the end-beneficiaries or cover occasional limited incidental expenses.


(c) Visibility of the organization and its activities to sustain adequate public awareness and support is provided by :

(i) presentations of its work in its website hosted free  by the IIT Chennai

(ii) a network of  around 150 Well-Wisher Volunteers, who function through a no-cost   Word-of-

     Mouth support methodology .  


(d) Accountability of Vidya Vrikshah is primarily :

(i) to its own Board of Trustees, through the transparency of its transactions;   and

(ii) to the public through presentations of its work through its website   ; and

(iii) statutory accountability is through  Annual Audited Accounts,  through   Tax returns to the Income Tax Department and through Annual Returns to the FCRA authority in respect of receipt of Foreign Contributions.


(e) All learning equipment, like the UBK (see details later) is sent to reach blind children  through their schools, which are required to acknowledge receipt and certify   distribution to the children, backed up with photographs of   these children, who comprise the end beneficiaries.


(f) No attempt is made for independent appraisals of end results or benefits or social impacts of the activities of Vidya Vrikshah, as such arrangements require financial resources, which Vidya Vrikshah  would rather use solely for end-beneficiaries. Vidya Vrikshah has preferred to leave appraisals in regard to effective use of  equipment,  to the receipient institutions and also trust to the natural curiosity and motivation of the receipient blind children who receive the equipment  and the care and concern of members of their families and their teachers.


Details of activities  of Vidya Vrikshah :


(a) Volunteers have used the IIT  Software Package on Computers, to create a large archive of web presentations   in Indian languages and in English and place them on Vidya Vrikshah’s website at   These presentations cover among other things, presentations relevant to  Literacy, Education,   and Training, specially for the disabled.


(b) Volunteers trained a large number of disabled persons (mainly blind), as also  teachers and trainers in using computers with the IIT Computer Software Package. The special software along with training in its use, has been provided   free of charge by Vidya Vrikshah, as of end - 2007, to over 500 such persons from all over India. At the beginning of 2008, in order to concentrate on  other activities, and for placing the training activity on a stronger institutional basis, Vidya Vrikshah’s training activity and resources were transferred to and integrated with Worth Trust’s Training Centre at KK Nagar, Chennai.  


(c) Volunteers have arranged for corporate and individual donations of used computers, which were then refurbished and given along with the software and training to over 100 blind schools and inclusive mainstream schools, mainly in Tamilnadu.


(d) Volunteers demonstrated the use of computers for   producing braille material by producing and distributing a monthly children’s braille magazine in Tamil and distributing them to all Blind schools in Tamilnadu from 2004 to 2006.


(e) Volunteeers developed and demonstrated use of a variety of hardware and software solutions to enable the use of computers by persons with all types of disabilities, including biplegia, quadriplegia, autism, cerebral palsy, low vision and no vision.


(f) Volunteers played an active role in the dissemination of the Universal Braille Kit Project (UBK). This   is a Kit of 8 devices, some of them, new original designs by Vidya Vrikshah and some, existing standard products. The Kit, accompanied by simple instruction manuals in the local languages, was designed   to enable any literate person anywhere in India,   to learn and teach their use by blind children, on how to read and write, count and calculate and draw and measure, the elements that make for basic literacy. The  eight   devices are as listed and illustrated below :

(i)      the Vasantha Braille Cube : to form and read braille letters of the alphabet of any language;

(ii)    the Natesan Block : to form and read braille words;

(iii)  the Vikas Block : to form and read   braille sentences;

(iv) the Braille Slate : to learn/teach how to write in braille;

(v)    the Alphabet Plate : to learn / teach normal handwriting in any language;

(vi) the Abacus  : to learn / teach how to count and calculate

(vii) the Taylor Frame : to learn / teach mathematics; and

(viii) the Geometry Set : to learn / teach how to   draw and measure.


The UBK is manufactured as already stated, by Worth Trust, and made available by them at a no profit price of Rs 500 per Kit (US$ 10). Vidya Vrikshah has undertaken to collect public donations to cover this cost, and as of 01-01-2010, over 20000 Kits have been reached to blind children all over India. It has also been sent in sizeable numbers to Afro-Asian countries. Vidya Vrikshah is committed to working for a Kit to be placed in the hands of every blind child in India as a matter of right.


(g) The Nina Universal Braille Teacher : This is an electronic teaching device designed by Vidya Vrikshah, that speaks out the letter of the alphabet and its braille code in any language, when   the  the braille code ascertained from a ready reckoner card, is entered through switches on its keypad. This device has been developed at a unit cost of Rs 700, and 100 Units have been sent for apppraisal to blind schools in different States in January, 2010.


(h) The Mobile Blind School Project : This Project has been formulated by Vidya Vrikshah in response to the challenges posed by the fact that the World has a blind population of 161 million, 90 percent of them in the third world, 10 million in India alone, and living in conditions of abject poverty. Large numbers of  blind children are not able to come to blind or mainstream schools by reasons of distance, expense, safety or even of the schools not accepting them on the plea that they do not have the skills or equipment to teach them.   Our logic is simple : IF BLIND CHILDREN CANNOT COME TO THE SCHOOLS,THE SCHOOLS MUST GO TO THEM


Our solution is to reach the UBK to huge numbers of blind children at their homes and  train them along with their family members. This reach is accomplished by a MobileBlind School Unit built around a three wheeler motor cycle and driven around  by a trainer who will reach into homes to deliver the Kits and undertake the training. More details on the Project are provided in our Disability-related presentations in this website.


Developing an International reach :


The International Institute of Social Entrepreneurs, Trivandrum, is a unique initiative of Sabriye Tenberken and Paul Kronenberg, the founders of the world-reputed organization,   Braille Without Borders,  that founded the first path breaking blind school of Tibet .  The IISE has just now completed a one year training of the first batch of 20 blind social entrepreneurs from 10 Afro-Asian countries, who will soon be setting up projects for the blind in their respective countries. Vidya Vrikshah now has a partnership with IISE whereby the solutions from Vidya Vrikshah and Worth Trust will be made available to these social entrepreneurs to reach the blind in their countries, through units of the Mobile Blind School described earlier. A beginning is to be made early in 2010 in Liberia. Click here to see our appeal  for support to this International Initiative.


Important conferences :


Vidya Vrikshah played a leading role in organizing and conducting important conferences for highlighting the availability and need for   IT based solutions for the disabled, specially the visually impaired. Three important events were :


(i)The INformation Technology ENablers For Persons with Disability Conference ( INTEND 2001 - Chennai, 22 to 25-06-2001) sponsored by the Rehabilitation Council of India and the  Institution of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineers. The Conference was designed as a path-breaking event for particpation for NGOs, Rehabilitation workers and Educators involved in providing various services to the disabled of the country together with experts from the   field of Information Technology and Industry to take stock of needs of the disabled and arrive at national   strategies for meeting those needs.


(ii) The National Seminar on Print Access For All, (Chennai, 19-04-2008) sponsored by the Hindu, Chennai

This Seminar mobilized experts and representatives from the concerned fields to present  solutions for the    development and deployment of   solutions in the Indian context, in respect of the following critical issues  :

(a)                Copyright issues – The need is for Publishers of books, newspapers, periodicals, audio and video products, broadcasting etc, in all possible media,   to provide access to their publications to the print disabled. This was made possible for them  either voluntarily or in compliance with Copyright or other laws, where legal provisions exist or need to be created.

(b)               Technical  Issues - National IT solutions were needed, especially in the area of   multi-lingual software, including   text editors, with support for inter-se conversions between text, speech and braille, and support for language translation and transliteration, scanning and optical character recognition, all within   a framework of uniform national standards ; and

(c)                Implementation issues – There was need for a clearly defined   national implementation structure – Governmental and Non—Governmental – that would ensure efficient delivery of literacy, education, knowledge and information services to all, especially the print-disabled end-user, in accordance with the principles of Universal Design



(iii) The World Initiative For the Blind (Chennai, 30-05-2010) sponsored by the Hindu, Chennai.  The event was comprised of presentations of four component Initiatives, (follow their links below) viz.

(a)    The National Initiative presented by Vidya Vrikshah, designed to bring literacy and education to the blind children of India, free of cost and at their doorstep.

(b)    The Technology Initiative presented by Worth Trust, Katpadi, designed to make disability products   to international standards, and make them available at no-profit prices to the disabled, through the distribution arrangements organized by Vidya Vrikshah.

(c)     The Social Support Initiative presented by the Rotary Club of Chennai designed to   mobilize local and international fund support to enable the low cost disability products offered by Worth Trust, to be distributed at no cost through the Vidya Vrikshah projects.

(d)    The International Initiative presented by the International Institute of Social Entrepreneurs, Thiruvananthapuram, designed to implementing proven solutions and methodologies emerging from the above  three Initatives. In Third World countries through the cadre of talented blind persons trained by them and positioned by them in those countries.


4.  Awards :


Dr.R. Kalyanakrishnan of IIT Chennai received the National Award for 2003 of the Government of India for the Multilingual Software Package referred to above, as the best IT solution for the Disabled.  


Shri. N.Krishnaswamy received the For The Sake of Honour Award from the Rotary Club of East RA Puram, Chennai in 2004   in recognition of Vidya Vrikshah’s work for the blind.


Vidya Vrikshah received the Nina Sibal Award of the All India Womens Education Fund Association, N.Dehi, on the 2 nd August, 2008 in recognition of its wide-ranging   services for the blind, run by its women volunteers.


Vidya Vrikshah Trustees, N.Krishnaswamy, C.L.Ramakrishnan and K.V.S. Gopalakrishnan, as former members of the Indian Police Service, are receipients of both the President’s Medals for Distinguished Service and the Police Meritorious Service.


Shri.K.V.S.Gopalakrishnan is also the receipient of the Government India’s Katin Seva Medal and the Prime Minister’s Life Saving Medal




Mailing Address   :   Vidya Vrikshah, New No 3, Tiruveedi Amman Street,

                                  R.K.Nagar, Chennai – 600 028

Email                     :  



                          (Dr Alamelu Ramakrishnan)


Tele                        :  044-24414741 (Dr Alamelu Ramakrishnan)

Tele                        :  044-24937926 (N.Krishnaswamy)

Cell                           :  95000 40543 (K.V.S.Gopalakrishnan)

Tele                        :  O44-24994704 (Dr. Rama Venkataraman)

Tele                        :  044- 24939942 (Mythili Gopalakrishnan)

Cell                         :  93802 41987    (Dr. V.Aravind)

Cell                         :  98407 60094    (N.Krishnaswamy)

Cell                         :  94433 09001    (N.Venkataraman)

Web                        :




Just get in touch at any of the above contact points, giving your profile and area of interest