A computer for each blind person

Posted on 22 Mar 2010

* Berita ini terdapat dalam Bahasa Inggeris sahaja.

KUCHING:  The Sarawak Society for the Blind is looking for contributions and support from the government and private sector for their ‘One Blind, One Computer’ programme.

According to Sarawak Society for the Blind chairman Ying Ten Ping, donations could be in the form of cash or computer software and hardware.

“They could donate refurbished computers if they plan to upgrade their PCs,” he added yesterday.Picture

He said this during the closing ceremony and presentation of certificates for the ‘Computer Literacy Course for the Blind’ held from March 15 to 20 at Kuching Blind Centre.  It was attended by 10 blind students from primary and secondary schools.

Ying said the society plans to initiate the programme for participants to be given a computer each for use at home.

“We do not have enough facilities to cater to all participants. For us to buy computers for everyone here will incur a large amount of money that we could not afford.

“By this, they could sustain their knowledge and skills and hopefully be more confident to venture into new frontiers of employment,” he explained.

The course was initiated by Sarawak Society for the Blind with the help of Yayasan Salam Sarawak and CIMB Foundation that donated computers equipped with JAWS (Job Access with Speech).

According to Ying, JAWS is a talking software programmed to assist the blind through the use of keyboard and synthetic speech.

He said unlike the sighted, the blind have to undergo several tedious phases of learning.

“Firstly, they have to master and get familiarised with the arrangements of the keyboard which may take a week or two.

“Then they have to learn how to use the JAWS talking software. Finally, they learn the normal Microsoft Office,” he said.

Ying said trainees might take even longer to learn, from six to 12 months, depending on their ability.

He explained that the level 1 course covers the fundamentals of JAWS, Windows XP and Microsoft Office applications, advancing to Level 2 and 3 by June.

All participants of the course are eligible to proceed to the next level, he said.

“We also want to equip participants with skills to develop their own websites, blogs and social network.

“In December, we hope to conduct another course in web development for experienced users,” Ying said.

In order to create awareness for blind-friendly websites, the society plans to organise a ‘Web Accessibility’ workshop for web designers and developers in October this year.

“Under the Persons with Disability Act of 2008, it is mandatory for all websites to be made accessible to the blind and other disabled groups.

“Therefore, the Sarawak Society for the Blind is committed to promoting the programme to the community in order to narrow the digital divide between the world of the blind and the sighted,” Ying said.

source from The Borneo Post