Training for the visually impaired (JAWS) - visibility
John Dada oversees this project at Fantsuam Foundation.
This is a fantastic initiative which will make the Fantsuam Academy courses accessible to the sight-impaired with support from VSO and ANWAB/Freedom Scientific (developers of JAWS).
JAWS (an acronym for Job Access With Speech) is " a screen reader, a software program for visually impaired users, produced by the Blind and Low Vision Group at Freedom Scientific. Its purpose is to make personal computers using Microsoft Windows accessible to blind and visually impaired users". John summed up the JAWS initiative perfectly when he told us: "that is a project that enables FF to address one its mission of reaching the un-served population of people with disabilities"
Background to the Project
The staff at Fantsuam Academy trained 583 people (221 of which were women, and one who was physically disabled) in ICT. It was noted by the staff that one group who could greatly benefit from such training was absent: the visually impaired.
Fantsuam Foundation mission is to be inclusive and so the team have made a great start to tackle this issue by the introduction of JAWS.
Ways you can help
Raise or donate funds to 'print' the course materials: braille book production is very expensive and each student copy is expected to cost between 5,000 and 15,000 Naira (depending on quantity ordered)
- 5 of the Academy's 30 Iveneo computers are now equipped with the JAWS screen reader application.
- Working with a small grant from VSO, support from Freedom Scientific (developer of JAWS) and visually impaired students from the University of Jos, Fantsuam Academy plan to train up to four instructors in JAWS and provide a (60 hour) foundation course that will prepare students to enter the Academy’s open classes.
- The first course was completed in July 2010 with 2 visually impaired students succesfully completing the course.
- 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 100,000 Naira for the sight impaired to attend the Certificate and Diploma classes.
What Happened Next
In April 2010 Seven Fantsuam Foundation Academy instructors and two visually impaired members of the community attended a JAWS introductory session held over two days, held in the Community Community Centre (CCC).
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.
Dadamac is helping this project to be more visible.