IT HELP LINE

Accessible Internet Café for Visually Impaired Persons:

Accessible Internet Café for the visually impaired persons (VIPs) has been functioning since January 8, 2007 and contains one server, 10 work stations equipped with Latest JAWS screen reading software, Braille Display Device, Magnifier Mouse, high speed DSL internet connection along with Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) scanner and printer. The Café remains opened on the week days from 1:30 pm to 7:00 pm. It is a free facility for the blind. The latest version of Job Access with Speech, (JAWS), and a screen reader to give the blind access to the computer has been installed. Visually impaired, with diverse backgrounds and with varying levels of education, belonging to different parts of the country, are beneficiaries of this Café. Furthermore, we provide IT counseling and trouble-shooting service pertaining to assistive technologies to the visually impaired throughout Pakistan.

Objectives:

1. Imparting computer literacy to the blind.
2. Facilitating access to education through internet.
3. Networking of the Pakistani blind with international blind community.
4. Psychological Counseling service for the blind
5. Dissemination of the training material to use screen reading software.
6. Raising awareness about the role of computer literacy for the blind

Activities:

Following are the key activities that are undertaken at the Accessible Internet Café for the Blind to achieve these objectives:

Imparting Computer Literacy to the Blind:

As majority of the beneficiaries lack even in the very basic computer skills, therefore, basic computer literacy is imparted to these users so that they could use the service on their own. We teach the blind how to work in the Windows environment with the help of screen reading software JAWS. They are taught how to use Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, and JAWS, the accessible software for the Visually Impaired. Furthermore, some beneficiaries required relatively advanced training in order to perform their professional duties. They required training in softwares assisting them at the work places. Such training is also provided to them as and when is required.

Professional Typing Training:

We decided that professional typing software would be much beneficial in imparting typing training to the blind. Therefore, we purchased Talking Typing Tutor software from Canada, developed exclusively for the blind, taking into consideration their special needs. This software was installed and the beneficiaries learn typing skills in a very organized and professional manner.

Dissemination of the Training Material:

Urdu training manuals have been prepared and recorded and they are being provided to the blind at their doorsteps so that those living in the far-flung areas could also learn computing skills.

Networking of Café Users with International Blind Community:

One outcome of the Internet Cafe has been the networking of the users of this service with the international community. There are countless groups, communities and clubs on the internet, catering to various needs of the blind people. The beneficiaries of the net service are imparted knowledge and training about these and how to become their member.

Facilitating Pursuit of Education:

Internet is a great tool to improve one's education. The users of the internet service are being imparted training as to how they could improve their education through internet. We facilitate the enrollment of those interested in different courses at Hadley School for the Blind.

Improving Access to Sources of Entertainment:

Audio and electronic textbooks, audio described movies, music, computer based games, email communications are some of the sources of entertainment. The users are trained as to how they could have access to these sources.

Counseling Service:

The project also offers counseling service for the blind. A psychologist is engaged to provide individual and group counseling to the beneficiaries of the service throughout the week. Keeping in view mobility constraints of visually impaired, facility of Skype and telephonic counseling is also provided. visually impaired discuss problems pertaining to adjustment, relationships, stress at workplace, feeling of guilt, negative worldview and attitudes in complete privacy, with the psychologist. In the latter, group sessions are held on ‘Counseling for lay man , ‘Vocational counseling’, ‘Stress & daily stressors’, ‘How to overcome stress’, ‘Expression through art’ (self catharsis), ‘Optimistic thinking’, ‘Attitude at workplace’ ‘how to overcome negative attitudes’, ‘Positive self image, and ‘Boost your Self Esteem ‘. They discuss different issues in a group, share best practices and learn from the experiences of the group members as to how best they could cope with problems they have to face regarding their Visual Impairment in different life situations.

Scanning books for visually impaired:

This initiative was taken in 2009 when a high tech scanner based on ADF technology was installed at Islamabad It centre that scans minimum 20 pages in 60 seconds. Through this scanner we help visually impaired in their higher studies by scanning those books which are written in English. They can send us any book that needs to be scan, after scanning process, the book is being converted in accessible E-format that they can easily read on their computers as well as mobile phones.