Tag Archive: Disabled Persons


Qatar IT centre to aid the disabled


Qatar’s vision to empower and enable people with disabilities through Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is receiving a boost with Mada, the Qatar Assistive Technology Centre. Since the non-profit organization opened on June 1 this year, a number of individuals have benefited from its state-of-the-art resource centre, described as the region’s only one of its kind.

The centre features interactive assistive technology (AT) environments for the visually impaired, hearing impaired, learning disabled and people with disabilities.The Mada resource centre is a showcase of cutting-edge technology, including computer software that reads the screen for the blind, eye tracking devices that allows to control a computer with eye movement, voice recognition, switch solutions that allow a computer to be controlled with a single movement such as sipping or blowing through a tube and word prediction.

There are separate workstations for individuals with hearing, visual, learning or physical disabilities. Screenreader solutions such as Ibsar and Jaws enables blind users to read, on their own, printed books and documents as well as electronic files. Ibsar helps them write texts in both Arabic and English, in addition to saving and printing these texts in Braille. The software speaks the text on a computer screen in both Arabic and English. With a screenreader a blind user is able to access the Internet and read websites, or send, receive and manage e-mail.The Tobii eye-tracking computer allows someone with no physical control of their body, other than eye movement to take control of a computer through which they can communicate, control the environment, browse the web and even play games.

(Source: Gulf Times)
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MAB using TTS to bring internet to visually impaired


NormalText-to-speech (TTS) is an application that converts text on a webpage to synthesized speech so that people unable to read the text owing to their visual impairment could understand the web content with their hearing ability. Over the years, the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) has been working very hard to provide training in this aspect for blind people.

Rahim using internetAccording to MAB’s  ICT manager Encik Silatul Rahim bin Dahman: developed countries have made it compulsory through legislation for web content operators to conform to a set of design guidelines called the Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) in order to facilitate the “reading” of their content with the help of TTS technology. For instance, every image on the web page must be tagged with an alternative text so that visually challenged web users could “listen” to the text read out to them by the speech synthesizer.

Otherwise, what they might hear could just be jumbled up vocals that do not make sense to them. He pointed out that TTS is not only applicable to personal computers; it could also be applied to mobile phones.

Rahim was the first blind Malaysian to have received TTS training in the United States. He helped set up a training centre in Penang upon his return to the country in 1993,
while the centre at Brickfields began its operation in 2005. Another training centre was recently set up in Kuching, Sarawak this July. “I may be 100% blind but the internet has taken away 50% of my disability,” says Rahim.

Normally it takes a learner about five days to pick up the fundamental skills of surfing the net with TTS. There are some 30 computers at the centre open for visually handicapped individuals to use. There are currently 20,500 blind people
registered with the Social Welfare Department, of whom some 2,000 people or about 10% have received TTS training from the MAB. Other than providing training courses for local blind people, MAB also offers courses for people from other regional countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Indonesia. In addition to IT training, MAB also provides a broad range of other services to help the blind people, including rehabilitation, recreational facilities, pre-school programes, vocational training (woodwork, massage, reflexology, computer programming, etc.) as well as disaster relief.

Sources: MySinchew, The nut graph
(image courtesy to nut graph)

‘IT for Disabled’ in Thai schools


girl without arms and legs uses computerBorn without arms and legs, Toyeeba Soumair, a girl from Narathiwat province, never thought that she would get a chance to explore the world of computers until she met HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn at Baan Plug Pla School 11 years ago. That moment changed her life.”Since the young girl has no arms at all, we had to design a computer which has a special switch device, which allows her to easily perform mouse functions using her shoulder with just one click,” Pairach Thajchayapong, the vice chairman of the Princess’s IT project, said. IT for the Disabled Program under the Princess’ IT Project in Thailand is an exemplary project to provide assistance to students with disabilities through the use of technology.
In 1998, Srisangwan School became part of this project. Computers were placed in the regular classrooms, 10 in each for grades 1 to 6. The National Electronic and Computer Technology Centre (NECTEC) has provided training for teachers at Srisangwan School on how to assess the capabilities of disabled children in order to identify the most appropriate assistance for them, and on how to effectively utilize IT tools for working with disabled children. The school also receives support from physical therapists, speech therapists, special educationists, and computer instructors to create individual curricula to suit each child’s special needs and physical abilities. The computer skills of the students at Srisangwan School have been shown to be of the same standard as those of non-disabled students, and the teachers are capable of using computer-assisted instruction programs to support their own teaching.
Kawila Anukul School is a school for children with learning difficulties in Chiang Mai province. In addition to a computer workshop facility, the Program has also constructed an IT-assisted classroom at Kawila Anukull. In this classroom, computers are used as a teaching aid together with other technologies that make it possible for students with writing, speech, or learning difficulties to learn and develop necessary skills.

Source: Adapted from UNESCO Bangkok online resources

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