ICT Based Computer Training for the Students with Visual Impairment:
To open the gateway to Information, Communication, and Technology for the students with visual impairment in Humla, the concept of this project has been designed and being implemented.
The ICT Training is principally designed and implemented to educate/train the blind and partially sighted students in both basic and intermediate and practical and theoretical skills/knowledge to use the computer independently.
The first and only special ICT-based computer training for school-level students with visual impairment in Nepal has been launched by Head Nepal in Simikot Humla. The training was formally inaugurated on the 26th of August 2013 in an especial ceremony organized by Head Nepal. The chief guest of the ceremony, Mr. Bam Bahadur K. C., the Assistant Chief District Officer inaugurated the training formally by uncovering the curtain on the monitor of all computers that are set up in the class and starting the screen reader and typing some words on a computer with the help of screen reader software.
Concept of ICT Based Computer Training:
As Head Nepal has been running a residential child home (hostel) for the blind and partially sighted children from different villages of Humla district since May 2012 with different special educational training and recreational activities, now we have realized the necessity of ICT training mainly based on computer skills session to educate the children in computer soft skills (theoretically) and to train the students with practical skills that will enable them to use and work on the computer even for their educational purpose.
Currently, 14 blind and partially sighted children in Head Vision Home are being trained in computer skills. Head Nepal has already been providing these children with accommodation, food along with special education, and different recreational activities. To open the gateway to Information, Communication, and Technology for the students with visual impairment in Humla, the concept of this project has been designed and being implemented.
This concept of the project, ICT training for the students with visual impairment is even more important/significant on the ground that the use of a computer with screen reader software is one of the main sources for blind persons to access information worldwide. It is because blind people only depend on sound and touch to access any piece of information and most of the works on the computer can easily be done by blind persons with the help of special software (screen reader) which will read out whatever appears on the monitor.
Purpose of the ICT Based Computer Training:
The ICT Training is principally designed and implemented to educate/train the blind and partially sighted students in both basic and intermediate and practical and theoretical skills/knowledge to use the computer independently. The main purpose of this project is to make sure that the students enrolled in the hostel get tremendous opportunities to access the use of computers at a practical level. So that the students will be literate in computer education/skills.
Another important purpose of this computer training is to support the students to have better access to their class course study. This means the students also can study their coursebook on the computer and they can even prepare a note on the computer and read them when needed. As IT-based education is being remarkably important and practically very much useful for blind students worldwide, this noble project, ICT Training is conceptualized with the spirit of “accessibility is a gateway to communication and the proper communication is a gateway to information” for persons with visual impairment.
The Target Group/Beneficiary of the Project:
The direct beneficiaries of this project, ICT Training are the 20 blind and partially sighted children who are currently staying at the hostel of the organization and are getting an opportunity to learn computer skills to widen their level of mind in information, communication, and technologies. Similarly, other children with visual impairment in the Humla district will also be the target group of the project in long run.
The Important and Uniqueness of ICT Training for Blind Students:
Since the development of modern ICT training even for regular people in Humla has recently been introduced, right now we cannot experience such computer training or ICT development for people with disabilities in the district accept Head Nepal’s I.T. based education for the blind children in 2011. For this reason, after the establishment of the project, ICT Training for the Students with blindness in Simikot, this project is the first and only special ICT training center in the entire district and one of few centers around the country.
In other words, the use of a computer for a blind person has been remarkably important in the sense that the use of Braille and computer are only the main sources to access information for any blind person. As the persons with visual impairment cannot visualize or have difficulty in seeing the objects, the uniqueness of this ICT Training takes place in the use of supportive devices while conducting classes or working in computer for the blind person. The use of a computer is very much accessible for the person with blindness, as special software is used to produce sound. The software is called Screen Reader or Text To Speech which is installed on the computer and helps blind persons to read out whatever appears on the screen.
An external speaker or headset is connected to the CPU in addition to all other external devices. In this way it is not necessary to see or look at the monitor to view what is done there, rather listen to the speech/sound carefully and perform any non-graphic works very comfortably on the computer. After launching this program, we are sure that it is exemplary and replicable for all of the other resource classes not only in the Humla district but all over Nepal.
The Objectives of the Project:
The key objective of the project, ICT Training is to equip the students with visual impairment with necessary computer skills theoretically and practically in both basic and intermediate levels in order to make them able to use a computer for multiple purposes such as for their study, entertainment, accessing information, etc. In addition to it, the followings are also some of the major objectives that are intended to be achieved during the project time-frame:
- To make the students with visual impairment literate in computer skills theoretically and practically
- To introduce different parts/devices of a computer to the students
- To enhance students ability and skills to perform multiple activities in computer to widen the level of knowledge of the students in especial computer training and supportive/assistive technologies
- To make them able to use different computer applications like Microsoft Office Package, search engines, different audio programs, etc.
- To develop their confidence in the ICT world
- To use the computer for their study as well
- To increase blind students accessibility in use of computer technology in the Humla district
Project Activities done to Achieve the objectives:
Seven sets of desktop computers with all internal and external devices along with necessary software installed are already placed in the computer class in the hostel of Head Nepal. In addition to it, a screen reader software is installed in each of the computers and an external speaker and headset are connected. Currently, Mr. Chhitup Lama is taking the computer session for the students who already have special skills and knowledge on assistive devices particularly in the use of screen reader software, and able to teach the blind and partially sighted students with necessary computer skills and knowledge in both theoretical and practical level and He is also a visually impaired person and well trained in computer.
There are two sessions every day one in the morning and another in the evening as the students have to attend the regular classes in school. Each of the sessions has seven students and the classes are running for one hour; the morning session is for primary level students which are more focused on basic courses whereas the evening session is for lower secondary and secondary level students which are based on both basic and intermediate level of learning. The instructor will have to ensure regular class for both of the sessions as much as possible. The students can practice on the computer even during the vacation/holiday as well. The trainer will have to take all necessary measures to conduct classes with individual learning ability and periodic assessment. He has to follow the computer curriculum prepared and assigned by the Head Nepal officials.
The instructor can add or remove any of the contents mentioned by the organization if necessary with the prior consent of the authority of the organization. At the end of every month, the instructor will have to have an assessment/test of each of the students on an individual basis to evaluate the student’s performance and learning during the ICT Training course. He/she also will have to prepare a progress report of each of the students and will have to submit it to the organization and the concerned donor agencies. Finally, the donor organizations and Head Nepal will have to evaluate the impact of the ICT training based on the report presented and periodic monitoring of the activities during the project time. As being the implementing body, Head Nepal will ensure regular class and active participation of the students during the entire project period.