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Student Computer Mentors Accelerate Learning

Several St. Lucy’s students in the computer lab

[photo caption: Class 7 computer lab students at St. Lucy's Primary School for the Blind in Kenya support their classmates' learning in the inABLE computer lab program]

Written by: Dorcas Muhoro, inABLE Computer Instructor

We all know first hand that hard work can really pay off, but just how soon and in what ways?

A month ago, inABLE set off on a journey to teach computer technology basics to St. Lucy’s Primary School for the Blind. Our computer-lab instructors were prepared to teach students at different speeds, depending with their level of understanding. As expected, Class 7 students—which will be the highest level next year— progressed through their computer instruction more quickly than their fellow pupils in lower classes.

With every chapter Class 7 completed, their excitement and computer independence grew. Then something amazing began to happen, these new Class 7 computer students began explaining various things on the computer to others. This peer information sharing inspired the idea of possibly initiating student computer-lab mentors to support instructors.

It’s really quite remarkable to watch these promising students teach computer concepts with ease, as they know the short-cut language to use amongst themselves. They are aware of the terms that need to be understood.

Watching these young people become teachers to their fellow classmates is a valuable asset that improves the inABLE computer-lab environment and accelerates learning. It’s also an empowering payback for hard work that is priceless!

 

 

 

Information Technology Learning for the Blind – Deaf

St. Odas deaf and blind students in the computer lab

[photo caption: A combination of sighted-deaf and blind-deaf students participate in inABLE's computer lab at the St. Oda's School for the Blind ]

By Georbert Athoo

Have you ever considered the possibility that a blind and deaf person may be able to use a computer as effectively as a sighted person? It’s true! We are witnessing this occurrence here at St Oda’s School for the Blind. It is possible.

Students Everline Awuor, Nerah Awino and Goretty Awino are sighted but cannot hear, while Verah Atieno, Naomi Wanjiku, Melza Akinyi and Quinton Wasonga are totally deaf-blind. With the help of their inABLE classroom teachers, Mary Juma, Ruth Wamukoya and Shifra Kageha, the computer lessons in the lab are now being adapted to address the needs of both the blind and deaf.

The normal lesson that goes for about 30 minutes at times is not sufficient for these students because the Computer language-English-Deaf Sign (CED) currently requires more time. This new adaptation to the computer-lab program has given the instructors a new appreciation for the value of sign language. The challenge for the deaf-blind students is all about touching oneself in every bit of explanation. Our inABLE instructors, who are now students learning sign language, are being guided by our sponsors, who are in assisting with this training.

inABLE is so very fortunate that our program and capable computer instructors remain flexible so that the blind students with additional disability challenges can gain learning benefits from assistive computer technology.

Annual Golf Tournament Rallies Support for inABLE

5 Computer Revolution golf team members

Photo caption: The Computer Revolution golf team played with enthusiasm to support inABLE. Pictured from left to right: Fresiah Githua, Shagun Vashisht, Dr. Laibuta, Peter Nganga, and Simon Kinuthia.

 

Dear Friends,

The 2014 inABLE Golf Tournament took place on October 31th at the Thika Sports Club in Kenya. This annual event was successful again due to the caring players, guests, organizers and sponsors.

We sincerely appreciate every player for coming out to support inABLE’s expanding Computer-Labs-for-the-Blind Program. The charitable funds raised at this year’s golf tournament will fund our assistive technology instructors, who provide vital hands-on training to the blind and visually impaired children, at the Thika Primary and High Schools for the Blind.

Additionally, inABLE is pleased to announce the opening of two new computer technology programs at St. Odas Primary School for the Blind in Kisumu and St. Lucy High Schools for the Blind in Meru, made possible by the generosity of the Rockefeller Foundation and General Electric. These new computer labs bring our program to 4 locations with enrollment of over 1,100 blind and visually impaired students and teachers across Kenya.

Please join us in giving special thanks to all of our considerate golf tournament sponsors, including:

General Motors

Computer Revolution

DTB

Microsoft

Kenya Airways

Sarova Hotels

Emmanuel Jambo Photography

As always inABLE is tremendously grateful and fortunate to receive funding and resources necessary to continue our mission of empowering the blind and visually impaired students in Africa with Computer Assistive Technology.

We appreciate your support and look forward to a fruitful 2015.

Sincerely,

Irene Mbari-Kirika Executive Director

P.S. While Dr. Laibuta (next to banner on right) is completely blind that did not deter him from playing in the tournament and teaching his team a thing or two about golf.

Opening Celebration: New Computer Lab at St. Lucy’s Primary School for The Blind in Meru County, Igoji Kenya

St. Lucy's School Band playing at opening celebrations

Written by: Dorcus Muhoro, inABLE Computer Instructor

InABLE celebrated the opening of yet another computer-learning-lab at St. Lucy’s Primary School for the Blind, located in the Igoji Parish in Meru County, Kenya. St. Lucy’s was established in 1958 and currently has a population of 315 students, 33 teaching staff, and 38 non-teaching support staff. The official opening of this newest inABLE sponsored computer-lab-for-the-blind was held on October 1st with a very colorful ceremony, officiated by the school head teacher Sister Judith. The guest of honors were DEO (District Education Office) Mr. David Ntwala, AEO (Area Education Office) MS. Agnes Mbutia, FR. Virginio Kirimi, BOG(Board of Governor) Representative MR. Timothy Kiragu, teachers, students and support staff.

After fine-tuning the computer-learning program at Thika Primary School for the Blind and then opening a second program at the Thika High School for the Blind, inAble—with the support of generous corporate and private benefactors—has installed 35 computers and Internet to expand the program to St. Lucy students. Additionally, inABLE will be facilitating school-wide training.

The school’s Scout team accompanied Father Kirimi as he blessed the lab. Enthusiasm was abundant as students and visitors took in the new computer learning space and digital technology. Everyone has very high hopes on how this new technology center will improve students' access to relevant learning materials and better prepare them with necessary computer literacy skills. 

Several students seated in the computer lab

Computer technology is a very important tool for all learners, especially visually impaired learners who can use assistive technology to access information, reducing the need to purchase expensive and bulky Braille lesson books. Every day inABLE computer lab students demonstrate remarkable computer aptitude that can help them learn at their own pace today and better prepare them for life after school.

Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) Learns How Computer-Labs-for-the-Blind Enable Online Learning

 

Blind students computer demonstration to KNEC

[photo caption: A KNEC official examines inABLE computer lab for the blind set up]

The Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC)—a national examination body that offers certification for primary education, secondary education and college education—are in the processes of digitizing the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exam to allow online testing. However, KNEC had anticipated this online option to be available to the sighted students only. Fortunately, inABLE Executive Irene Mbari-Kirika, along with inABLE teachers and students, had an opportunity to meet KNEC officials to show that how even blind and visually impaired can complete the online exam.

 By demonstrating how students go about their online exams, KNEC officials now have a much better understanding of how assistive computer technology can enable a visually impaired or blind student to use online learning tools and complete online examinations. inABLE’s successful computer-labs-for-the –blind  have offered computer studies to the blind and visually impaired at both primary school and secondary school level. Presently, the Kenyan government does not offer computer studies at this level even to the regular schools.

 With good training on how to use computer and assistive technology, including a screen reader, the blind and visually impaired can use computers just like the sighted people do.