Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) Learns How Computer-Labs-for-the-Blind Enable Online Learning
The Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC)—a national examination body that offers certification for primary education, secondary education and college education—are in the processes of digitizing the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exam to allow online testing. However, KNEC had anticipated this online option to be available to the sighted students only. Fortunately, inABLE Executive Irene Mbari-Kirika, along with inABLE teachers and students, had an opportunity to meet KNEC officials to show that how even blind and visually impaired can complete the online exam.
By demonstrating how students go about their online exams, KNEC officials now have a much better understanding of how assistive computer technology can enable a visually impaired or blind student to use online learning tools and complete online examinations. inABLE’s successful computer-labs-for-the-blind have offered computer studies to the blind and visually impaired at both primary school and secondary school level. Presently, the Kenyan government does not offer computer studies at this level even to the regular schools.
With good training on how to use computer and assistive technology, including a screen reader, the blind and visually impaired can use computers just like the sighted people do.
Keeping up with ever changing computer technology can be a financial challenge, but also an educational opportunity that excites and engages our students and faculty. In a few short years, our inABLE computer-lab-for-the-blind students have gained experience using CRT monitors, Microsoft multipoint server 2011 and now NETBOOK computers. This necessary computer technology evolution has been made possible by generous contributions that include inABLE partners, individuals, corporations, civic organizations, and many other sources.
As first, replacing heavy Braille books that were in short supply inspired the idea and formation of inABLE’s computer-lab-for-the blind program. Removing barriers that limited learning first happened when computer learning extended educational resources beyond heavy-to-carry Braille books and continues today. Students at Thika Schools for the Blind appreciate the Netbooks, because they are compact, light to carry, and easily connected. They are now experiencing computer learning conveniences that many other blind and sighted students around the world enjoy.
Wireless WIFI availability that Access Kenya donates provides students with unplugged freedom. Our class six pupils and form two students now complete their studies on 'one laptop one student' with the support of Assistive Technology instructors.
inABLE computer-lab students have embraced the class marker technique where each and every student has the opportunity to log into a Netbook with their own credentials to take the exams and submit results to the government of Kenya, who accepts digital examination. These students are advancing as self-directed learners, which will help them become adaptable life-longer learners.
Watching these blind students quickly adapt to new technology and advance in their education is a notable achievement that aptly demonstrates that disability is NOT inability.