Low-cost technology for young people with vision impairment
- Nhat Hong Center for The Blind and Visually Impaired
- Country of Implementation
- Asia & Pacific
- Southeast Asia
- First published
“To be blind is not miserable; not to be able to bear blindness, that is miserable.” John Milton, 17th century blind poet
Many visually impaired children in Vietnam do not have access to the mainstream education system or other educational options, such as vocational training or information and communication technology (ICT). Thus, they remain dependent on their social network, such as their families and/or society as a whole. One reason for this exclusion is that the visually impaired often do not have the possibility to have adaptive educational materials and devices at hand, mainly due to a lack of financial resources.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
With the use of ICT, such as adaptive software and embossers that produce Braille, the project provides visually impaired young persons with educational and technical services. These children learn to develop their computer and communication skills and use ICT to learn other subjects at school and in daily living. The project is cost effective and can be revised easily to accommodate changes in the general education programmes. Rather than making specific devices for the blind, which would be expensive, the project chose to use regular computers, phones, tablets, etc., and instead created specific software and apps – all of which are freely available for download. The project also conducted various trainings for ICT teachers and associations for the blind.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
Currently, the Nhat Hong Centre’s annual budget for ICT program is $15,000 and it hopes to increase that figure to 20,500 in 2016 and 30,500 in 2017, especially through enhanced fundraising activities and the selling of developed services and products. From 2015 to 2017, 50 children with vision impairments will attend the Early Intervention Programme, 80 the Special Education Programme, and 120 the Inclusive Education Programme. Further, 30 will attend the Higher Education programme and 50 the Vocational Education Programme. In 2016 the ICT curriculum will be finished; more low-cost devices will be developed, as well as applications for Android and Apple devices; and more trainings for ICT teachers as well as for young persons will be held.
THE STORY OF HOANG NGUYEN
“I now work in a library in Ho Chi Minh City.”
Hoang Nguyen was born into a poor family in a small village in Dong Nai province, Vietnam. A family of five, both Hoang and his father have limited eyesight. Hoang`s sight continued to worsen such that by the time he went to primary school he could not see the blackboard or read normal print textbooks. The Nhat Hong Centre supported him with eye care, scholarship, and low-vision aids so that he was able to study at the local ordinary primary and lower secondary schools. At age 15 Hoang had to move to the Nhat Hong Centre in Ho Chi Minh City to get additional support so that he could attend high school. There he began to study computer technology using Zoomtext software, which magnifies the screen in order to read and write, and he used closed-captioned TV and magnifiers for reading. After high school Hoang entered the Ton Duc Thang Technical University to study Information Technology. Although he faced many difficulties, with the assistance of technology devices, friends, and support teachers he earned a Bachelor’s degree in IT, and has since worked as a technician at the General Science Library in Ho Chi Minh City. Hoang has also gotten married, and today he is living happily and independently.