Support for the visually impaired in rural Nigeria

Here is some additional information about Fantsuam Academy and its initiative to use JAWS for the blind and visually impaired in its community.(As promised in my previous blog)
This email update was sent to Dadamac UK from Cicely, a VSO at Fantsuam Foundation (FF), and has been edited to remove names. For photos click here.

"Our JAWS experts, are safely back in Jos. I have thanked them for the time they have given introducing  Fantsuam and its instructors to JAWS as part of the programme to make Fantsuam Academy courses available to the sight-impaired with suport from VSO and ANWAB/Freedom Scientific ( developers of JAWS.)

Report of the visit

Seven Fantsuam Foundation Academy instructors and two blind members of the community attended a JAWS introductory session over two days, held in the Community Community Centre (CCC) on 6 and 7 April.

The sessions were led by two sight impaired students currently studying Special Education at the University of Jos.  One of the students had taught himself JAWS after becoming blind at the age of 17 and has written a 60 hour JAWS curriculum including student books and teachers' guide. The other has been partially sighted since birth.

As well as demonstrating JAWS, FF instructors were encouraged to 'practice' teaching with the two blind members of the community, both of whom are familiar with typewriters but have not used computers before.

Plans for JAWS training at Fantsuam Academy

One of the five JAWS licenses FF has received has been installed on one computer in the CCC which instructors will be able to try out the application on in the coming months.  The other licenses will be installed on selected computers once a training programme (including which classrooms to be used) has been decided.

The external Instructors will be returning to FF at the end of the academic year (end June) to lead both FF instructors and students in the full 60 hour course that one of them has developed (2 hours each day for 6 weeks).  The number of instructors that will participate is yet to be discussed. 

It is planned that sight impaired students will attend the JAWS training programme and then enter the Certificate and Diploma classes with sighted students (where the instructors are familiar with JAWS).  The JAWS class will be heavily subsidised. The Academy will offer (needs based) Scholarships up to the (total) value of N100,000 for the sight impaired to attend the Certificate and Diploma classes.

Action plan

Between now and June the following activities will take place:

- seek funding to 'print' the course materials: braille book production is very expensive and each student copy is expected to cost between N5,000 and N15,000 (depending on quantity ordered)

- raise awareness of the course in the community. Each JAWS class can accommodate up to 5 students with the possibility of running multiple courses per day.  Potential students include:

- FF instructors

- instructors from other/local computer courses or cyber cafes that may want to offer screen reading services in their facilities

- sight impaired students"