We are setting up a computer training center for blind students through the Uthayam association for the visually impaired, Battocalo. Our aim is to offer a six month computer training session for beginner and advanced level visually impaired students.
To start off we will be providing them with 9 computers which will be enough for 1 teacher and 7 students. We will supply them with one backup computer in case anything goes wrong with one of theirs. We currently have 24 students in line to be trained and expect many more as time passes. Because of this one of our goals is to supply a few more computers after the first one or two training sessions have been completed.
Each session will span 6 months for and be held all day for beginners. For more advanced students we will have a separate training session in the evenings or during weekends for roughly the same amount of time, again on a daily basis.
The beginners will start by learning the keyboard and then they will branch onto Microsoft word and excel as well as usage of the internet and email. We are trying to help them learn basic skills to help them get jobs in data entry or any similar field. The advanced students will be learning advanced operating systems, windows and application installation.
One of the most challenging tasks so far has been to find a skilled trainer who is willing to work full time. The person we have found is a former medical student who tragically lost his vision during his first year of medical school. Prior to his loss of vision, he used computers on a daily basis and he continues to by tutoring visually impaired students. We also have a backup trainer who is going to be graduating this August from the faculty of arts in Eastern university.
The trainers have been working on putting together a curriculum for the classes and we have been thoroughly reviewing it to ensure that our students will learn all that they need in order to get the best possible jobs. To help them find jobs we will soon begin working on a certificate of sorts that shows that they have all completed such a difficult course despite their disability.
We are implementing a rule that for each 6-month session that there must be at least two girls in each class and due to that we need to help them cover accommodations as many girls are unable to travel long distance on a daily basis for such a long period of time.
As of now, we have enough funds to last them three to four years and afterward we will ask for the graduates who have found jobs to give back in order to cover expenses for the teachers, room accommodations, and computer maintenance. By doing this we hope to help them become self-sufficient.
Our plan is for the first session to begin in September 2018. As of to date, we have completed cost analysis for the program, hired computer trainers, found building for classes to be held, and accommodations for first batch of students. Currently we preparing a 6 month curriculum for both beginning level and advanced level.
Photos taken during project planning and coordination:
By Jayani Ratnam