Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired

 
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$7,887
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Students using iPads
Students using iPads

How does a person who is blind use an iPad? It’s a simple question that both sighted and blind people frequently ask. The answer: With assistive technology.

The iPad is a visual device that utilizes touch screen technology, which offers no physical feedback. Apple solves this problem for the blind or low vision person with Voice Over, an advanced screen reader assistive technology. As well as, Siri and Dictation to help blind users type, launch apps, and read calendar.

Once Voice Over is activated, a user places a finger on the screen and runs it along the screen's surface. Whenever the finger runs above an icon or static text, Voice Over will read it out loud. What exactly does it read? Everything! A screen reader not only tells users what is visually displayed on the iPad touch screen it also gives information about buttons, links, text attributes, and even describes the iPad holding position. When the user finds what they are looking for, they double-tap and the app, link, setting, etc is activated.

inABLE students at the seven assistive technology computer labs at Thika Primary School for the Blind, Thika High School for the Blind, St. Oda Primary School for the Blind, St. Lucy Primary School for the Blind, and St. Lucy High School for the Blind are becoming familiar with the iPad screen layout and device navigation.

Additionally, over 60 kids participated in a 7-day book camp to improve their iPad navigation skills at the inaugural Peer-to-Peer Training Computer Technology Camp hosted by inABLE on April 20th - 25th at the Thika Primary & High School for the Blind.

To appreciate the response to iPad learning, please read the student notes below:

Student #1   “These iPad are good to us. I have discovered that a blind person using an iPad is not hard. Our teachers are very encouraging. Learning iPad has a lot of benefits like increasing our knowledge about technology, encouraging our hope on technology, and giving us world access network. I have taken notes on everything and when I buy an iPad for myself am sure I will be able to use it.”

Student #2:   “On Monday morning [at the inABLE technology camp] I was very happy to have iPad in my hands. It was my first time to learn iPad, I did not understand how a blind person can use iPad without sight. I thank God for giving me this chance to be in Thika learning iPad. In iPad I have learned many commands that you must use for your iPad. It’s not hard to be taught iPad.

The training of iPad is making us feel accepted in our world, mostly in our country Kenya. InABLE- thank you for giving us good instructors. We can understand them well and they are ready to help us any time there is a problem in learning.”

Student #3:   “I just can’t hesitate to say that am very pleased with the iPad lessons we are taking here at Thika. They are both interesting and fun. The new updates we are being given about the changing technology are so much impressing. The teachers teaching us are professionally trained, understanding and cheerful. In fact I couldn’t believe that I can use touch to operate an iPad until it was practically proved to me.”

Links:

inable disability day1
inable disability day1

inABLE participated in a DISABILITY DAY event, organized by the Siaya County, at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology (JOOUST) in Bondo Town Kenya on Saturday, February 14th.  

The St. Oda’s School for the Blind was well represented by four capable (totally blind) class seven inABLE computer lab students: Devoter Awino, Kennedy Luvembe, Sara Anyango and George Ojwang.

Disability Day celebrates progress in breaking down barriers, opening doors, and realizing an inclusive society for all.

Disability organizations, businesses, governments and the community come together at events across the country to mark the occasion and celebrate the achievements of people with disability.

Congratulations to everyone involved with this successful event.

Links:

Students in the new computer lab
Students in the new computer lab

InABLE celebrated the opening of yet another computer-learning-lab at St. Lucy’s Primary School for the Blind, located in the Igoji Parish in Meru County, Kenya. St. Lucy’s was established in 1958 and currently has a population of 315 students, 33 teaching staff, and 38 non-teaching support staff. The official opening of this newest inABLE sponsored computer-lab-for-the-blind was held on October 1st with a very colorful ceremony, officiated by the school head teacher Sister Judith. The guest of honors were DEO (District Education Office) Mr. David Ntwala, AEO (Area Education Office) MS. Agnes Mbutia, FR. Virginio Kirimi, BOG(Board of Governor) Representative MR. Timothy Kiragu, teachers, students and support staff.

After fine-tuning the computer-learning program at Thika Primary School for the Blind and then opening a second program at the Thika High School for the Blind, inAble—with the support of generous corporate and private benefactors—has installed 35 computers and Internet to expand the program to St. Lucy students. Additionally, inABLE will be facilitating school-wide training.

The school’s Scout team accompanied Father Kirimi as he blessed the lab. Enthusiasm was abundant as students and visitors took in the new computer learning space and digital technology. Everyone has very high hopes on how this new technology center will improve students' access to relevant learning materials and better prepare them with necessary computer literacy skills. 

Computer technology is a very important tool for all learners, especially visually impaired learners who can use assistive technology to access information, reducing the need to purchase expensive and bulky Braille lesson books. Every day inABLE computer lab students demonstrate remarkable computer aptitude that can help them learn at their own pace today and better prepare them for life after school.

Students at St Lucy
Students at St Lucy's School for the Blind

Links:

Blind students at KNEC
Blind students at KNEC

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. 

Links:

Students with Laptops
Students with Laptops
A little over five months ago, inABLE bridged the gap for technology by saying good-bye to a fixed computer console classroom set up and embracing a mobile technology alternative for the class seven pupils at the Thika Primary School for the Blind. inABLE took this step ahead, in advance of the republic of Kenya’s plan to roll out the laptop project in all schools, set a exemplary example that demonstrates real-time learning instruction and results.
 
In the begin some of our students exclaimed, "This is just impossible... I can't do it”. Yet, now all the class seven pupils’ parents, relatives, community and teachers celebrate the introduction of laptops. What would've happened if inABLE wasn’t forward thinking and gave up the idea of portable laptops that might be dropped or too small for blind or visually impaired students to easily maneuver?  How very limited would the students’ computer learning knowledge be today if we didn’t stick to our plans and see this technological evolution through to the end? Thankfully, the inABLE leadership had this vision and passionately worked towards it with greater enthusiasm.
 
For sure success is a journey of thousands miles with lots of challenges. InABLE  took the risked last April to give out seven laptops to pupils in the pilot project with a few doubts as to whether the laptops would be returned in good condition. Reloaded up with more than ten class audio clips lessons, kindle books for the social studies, user guides and different book share story books, the students enjoyed carrying home their laptops and keenly made use of them while at home with weekly phone call support by the Assistive technology instructors. 
 
With technology….disability is NOT inability. We are very proud of all of our responsible students and appreciate the extended learning opportunities that mobile laptops provide.

 

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Organization

INABLE, CORP

atlanta, Georgia, United States
http://www.inable.org

Project Leader

Irene Mbari-Kirika

Founder & Executive Director
Atlanta, GA United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired