Many people with disabilities in Kenya fail to become independent not because of their disability, but due to inadequate access to specialized services or equipment.
Blindness can be especially frustrating among young students unable to work and therefore dependent on their families. Having attended special schools for the blind they have learnt to read and write using braille. But this is not enough to work, they need to be able to use computers. Unfortunately schools lack specialized software which to help the students learn to use computers.
Tzedek’s partner FIA – Facts in Action will give 200 young students the use computers using software which reads aloud text that appears on the screen.The software also gives the user a unique set of tools for navigating and accessing the internet. By using this technology the students will be able to master braille keyboarding, access online educational resource and develop employable skills.
92 students have been trained in the first 6 months and are now able to perform several tasks on a computer or mobile device. These recently acquired computer skills give them a new level of independence. They have the opportunity to continue to study in higher education or find work. Many graduates are expected to become receptionists, cashiers, telephone operators, customer care representatives for instance. Their self-esteem will improve and they will be able to be equal and honoured members in their communities. Another 100 students will receive the same training in the second half of the project.
Moreover, a student club for the visually impaired has been created. The club has 52 active members organising activities for their peers in the community.
The Knock-on Effect
Since the computer used by blind people can be used by sighted people, FIA intend to use the computers outside of class time as a cyber café. This will generate income to cover the on-going costs of the project and it is hoped the expansion of the project.