Using computers to support blind learners on all levels of education
- Tanzania League of the Blind
- Country of Implementation
- Subsaharan Africa
- First published
“ICT training has increased their opportunity for employment and maximised their access to information.” Hon. January Makamba, Deputy Minister for Science and Technology, Tanzania
Due to computer illiteracy and a lack of assistive technology, persons with visual impairment face serious challenges in accessing information, communication, and services. Further, these individual receive little consideration when new technology is introduced. For instance, the introduction of ICT in learning institutions in Tanzania has not considered the special needs of the visually impaired.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
Tanzania Education Authority, Sightsavers, and the Tanzania League of the Blind attempted to address this problem of ICT inaccessibility by ensuring that the visually impaired are equipped with computer skills and are enjoying ICT through assistive technology. Initial beneficiaries were education practitioners, out of which group two primary school teachers attempted to teach ICT at their respective schools. This gave clues as to the possibility of teaching ICT to visually impaired learners as it is done to students without disabilities. This process involved: (1) piloting the idea in eight institutions, consisting of one university, one teacher- training college, three secondary schools, and three primary schools; (2) establishing one computer laboratory at each of the eight benefiting institutions (such laboratories will be fully furnished, including the accessories necessary to make computers accessible to the visually impaired; (3) developing an ICT training curriculum for all school levels and a teacher-training course on assistive technology; (4) conducting trainings in the application of a screen reader; and (5) translating the screen reader into a Swahili speech synthesizer.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
The pilot project will be co-implemented by the three assistive technology stakeholders, with the Ministry of Education as the primary policy developer. A sample of students in secondary schools and all visually impaired students receiving special needs education will be trained in assistive technology as a way of teaching and learning ICT as a curriculum subject. After two years of the project implementation, during which the results and best practice will be recorded, the project will be adapted by the Ministry of Education.