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American Chamber of Commerce, Kenya Becomes inABLE Supporter

Photo caption: Left to Right- George Siso, inABLE Business Development Manager, Ferial Nathoo. CEO American Chamber of Commerce, Kenya, Timothy Kajume, inABLE Executive Team. 

 

The  American Chamber of Commerce, Kenya has chosen to include inABLE among the local charity organizations that they support. Recently, InABLE Africa had the honor to welcome and meet with the Chamber CEO Ms. Ferial Nathoo, who generously presented a donation and a promised to involve inABLE in more AmCham activities this year.

Thank you to the entire AmCham leadership and membership for helping inABLE bring assistive technology labs to all the blind schools in Kenya.

St. Lucy’s School Celebrates Best K.C.P.E Exam Special Schools Candidate Distinction

Photo caption: High KCPE Exam Achiever David Mutugi plays  piano during school opening day service.

 

written by: Jane Kangai, inABLE Computer Instructor

 

St. Lucy’s School for the Visually Impaired celebrated the New Year with an opening service on January 15th that included a remarkable honor. Student David Mutugi, who was among the class eight students who took the Kenya certificate of primary education (K.C.P.E) examination last Fall, was able to produce the best pupil result nationwide, amongst all candidates with special needs. He attained 392 marks out of 500 marks. Additionally, Mutugi was also one of the best students in our inABLE computer lab.

Mutugi aptly earned the privileged to pursue his secondary school course work at the M-Pesa Foundation Academy, a state of the art, mixed boarding high school providing world class Kenyan education. Driven by leadership, entrepreneurship, technology and innovation, the Academy serves talented but economically disadvantaged students with demonstrable leadership potential.

Mutugi feels good about the computer skills the helped him do online research and is very thankful that inABLE established a computer program at his school. In addition to his school work, Mutugi has been attending the inABLE Innovation Lab computer boot camps at Thika Primary School, where he gained hands-one experience using new technology devices, such as the iPad.

Presently, the St. Lucy’s school has only has desktop computers. For this reason, Mutugi has asked inABLE for assistance in providing iPads at his school so that all of the other students can learn to use the iPad technology too.

Note: On behalf of all the inABLE computer instructors, we give special thanks for the accomplishments of the St. Lucy community and for their support with our work to instruct visually impaired students. We also extend our appreciation to inABLE for developing the computer program, which has greatly changed the academic lives of the students and teachers at St. Lucy’s School for the Visually Impaired and at the four other partner blind schools.

 

 

 

 

JAVA Programming Class Empowers Ambitious Blind & Visually Impaired Students

Photo Caption:  Pictured above as 11 students from Thika, St Lucy and St Oda Schools for Blind who learn participated inABLE’s December Innovation Lab JAVA camp.

December 7, 2015

Written by: Georbert Athoo, inABLE Africa Accessibility Specialist

 

All too often computer programmers overlooked people with sight impairment when writing various desktop and mobile applications. Accessibility is either not anticipated or prioritized. At inABLE’s computer-labs-for-the-blind students are becoming agents of change by learning to become computer application developers in a JAVA programming class taking place at the December inABLE school-break computer camp.

This third inABLE vacation boot camp, with a focus on programming purely with JAVA, has been a remarkable opportunity for the class of 11 students from three inABLE partner schools (Thika, St Lucy and St Oda Schools for Blind). The students who enrolled comprised of four girls and seven boys, four totally blind and seven low vision pupils. Pictured below are two totally blind campers who are working hard to learn computer programming. Top picture: Jackson Mukaria  Bottom picture: Susan Akuya.

 

Students who had just finished developing their first calculator and testing its usability, had a well-time visit from a representative from Oracle Corporation. The Oracle guest engaged the promising computer programmers with JAVA-world questions and explanations.

Objective

The two-week JAVA class objective was to create a very basic text-based calculator that can run both on Android and desktop devices. Computer programs that have been used by the students include: JAVA language and Eclipse editor. Eclipse is a fully featured Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that is accessible by the screen readers.

Accessibility

There are a number of environment/platforms or programs/editor we could opt to use with JAVA. These include Netbeans and Sodbeans. As per accessibility is concerned, all versions of Netbeans are NOT accessible and can’t be used by the totally blind for programming. While Sodbeans is 80% accessible—it comes with its inbuilt screen reader when turned on— its configuration is not ideal. This leaves Eclipse, the best editor and platform for all JAVA programming that is accessible by both Non Visually Desktop Access (NVDA) and Job Access With Speech (NVDA) screen readers.

Challenges

Recognizing that computer programming is a difficut subject for most every beginner student to grasp, the young upcoming visually impaired JAVA developers were faced with a number of challenges. For example, the JAVA language is totally different from the normally used English language. Also, the use of JAVA syntax and slangs is hard to understand at first.

Future Plans

The next JAVA class at a future vacation boot camp is to develop a simple accessible game and also the same calculator, but this time it will need to run on the iPad, iPhone or universal device. To accomplish this, we plan to use simple Object C programming and XCode editor. This exercise will give students computer-developing experience on both Android devices and Apple.

 

inABLE Opens Emmanuel Jambo Photo Exhibition at Safaricom Michael Joseph Center

 

Written by: Peter Okeyo, inABLE Program Manager

A picture is worth a thousand words.  This phrase is widely attributed to Frederick R. Barnard, who published an article praising the effectiveness of graphics in advertising with the title "One look is worth a thousand words". For inABLE, the power of visual storytelling came on strong at our first-ever benefit photo exhibition featuring photographer Emmanuel Jambo.

In partnership with inABLE, Emmanuel Jambo, who is a celebrated professional photographer and the photographer for Kenya’s President the Honorable Uhuru Kenyatta, put his photographic artistry on display to benefit inABLE at the Emmanuel Jambo Photo Exhibition, Safaricom Michael Joseph Centre, Nairobi Kenya, from November 13- 15 and again from November 25 - December 5, 2015.

While absolutely beautiful and inspiring, this photo exhibition has a greater purpose to educate the public about the different causes of blindness. Sadly, today in Kenya, many people do not know what causes blindness and sometimes even associate visual impairment and blindness with curses. The subjects of Emmanuel Jambo’s photos are inABLE computer-labs-for-the-blind students. These were photos taken from all our computer-labs-for-the-blind programs at Thika Primary and High School, St. Lucy’s Primary for the Blind in Meru, and St.Oda School for the Blind in Siaya.

At the November 12th Emmanuel Jambo Photo Exhibition opening event, inABLE Executive Director Irene Kirika discussed the importance of increasing public awareness related to the causes of blindness and the growing need for computer education for the blind. She thanked the many guests, businesses partners, corporations, and foundation supporters who help inABLE bring assistive computer technology to blind schools across Kenya.

To demonstrate just how a blind person can use computer technology, four totally blind inABLE representatives impressed visitors with their iPad skills to access digital contents. 

The event was well attended with many distinguished guests, including CEO of Safaricom, Bob Collymore, , inABLE Country Director Catherine Wamwangi, , Board Member Nzuki Waita, , inABLE Business Manager George Siso , and inABLE computer instructors.

It is with tremendous gratitude that we once again give thanks to Safaricom, one of the largest telecommunications firm in Kenya, for hosting this remarkable Emmanuel Jambo Photo Exhibition and for their long-time support of inABLE’s computer-labs-for-the-blind program.

Totally Blind Atieno Awuor Christine Ventures Into Java Programming World

PHOTO CAPTION: Java programming code output done by totally blind Atieno Awuor Christine

 

October 23, 2015

Guest Blogger: inABLE Intern Atieno Awuor Christine

My name is Atieno Awuor Christine. I am a totally blind and currently undertaking my internship inABLE Assistive Computer Technology Lab at St Oda School for the Blind, the very same place where I learned how to use computers, design websites and complete accessibility testing.

When I first heard my inABLE colleagues talking about JAVA, I had to ask for an explanation of use and purpose.  Initially, I thought JAVA must be very difficult to learn and might only be meant for the sighted. However, I thought back on my inABLE computer-lab-for-the-blind learning journey that began coding and designing accessible websites using simple HTML and Notepad editor, and resolved that JAVA programming would be much easier to learn. If other totally blind individuals in the rest of the world can succeed in other fields, why shouldn’t I become a leader and venture into the programming world?

What I have discovered while programming with Java is that while many of the platforms used are accessible, there are still others that are not. Netbeans IDE is not fully accessible with NVDA and does not have its own built speech, as compared to Sodbeans that has accessibility features and inbuilt speech. Instead of notepad used for HTML. I use eclipse as my editor for all JAVA applications.

Java is indeed very interesting and give me hope that one day I too will be able to make my own applications for mobile devices, smartphones and computers and even games that my fellow visually impaired and totally blind persons can access and play!  Just imagine, one day I might even be a innovator in the programming world.

I thank the inABLE instructors and its founder Irene Mbari-Kirida (who had the determination to bring computer learning to the blind at schools in Kenya) for their person-centered computer program that does not to exclude students from more complicated programming. I also thank those who invented JAVA for opening my world to unlimited programming application possibilities.