Visually impaired to benefit from electronic textbooks

The Guyana Council of Organisations for Persons with Disabilities (GCOPD) on Tuesday received sponsorship to facilitate the conversation of printed textbooks to electronic format in an effort to aid in the education of visually impaired students.

The United Women for Special Children (UWSC) donated a cheque valuing $214,500 to the institution for the implementation of this special needs initiative. The project will offset the conversion of 39 textbooks from printed literature to be accessible for teaching and self-learning on electronic devices. These educational materials will benefit students belonging to forms one to three who were previously denied such information, due to their disability.

UWSC President Jennifer Prashad presents the cheque to a member of the Guyana Society of the Blind

Receiving the cheque was the President of the Council, Cecil Morris, who was accompanied by Gangesh Singh, known for his activism for the rights and access to opportunities for persons who are differently able. Singh, who is also attached with GCOPD, expressed appreciation to THE UWSC for their contributions in the materialising of the project and noted that their donations will go a far way.

Emphasising the need for such a project in Guyana, Singh stated that, “Presently, the students (who are visually impaired) that are in the secondary school system cannot access textbooks merely because it is in printed format. They depend on persons to read it for them.” He went on to say that communication in the classroom will improve and the students will be more independent in their learning process with the aid of electronic devices such as computers and tablets. With the projected success of this programme, the Council further indicated intentions for expanding the reach to support students in the primary level as well.

The activist also pointed out that developed countries have already adapted this digital approach, given that it provides the best avenue for persons with disabilities to access quality education. With the lacking of such provisions in Guyana, it is imperative that Guyana follow suit, giving those differently able a fair chance at a normal life.

Speaking on behalf of the United Women for Special Children was Jennifer Prashad, President of the organisation. She recognised the need to provide the necessary tools for the development of students, especially for those with special needs. She noted that, “This project goes hand in hand with our mandate at the United Women for Special Children, which is to ensure that all students, all youths of Guyana, become productive members of society.” Prashad further pointed out that UWSC has been in existing for over 20 years and they have been working with schools and organisations to assist special needs individuals in similar projects. The conversion project is a collaborative initiative with the United Women, the Council for Persons with Disabilities as well as the Guyana Society for the Blind, which falls under the arms of the Council. The Education Ministry also contributed to this academic venture by providing the textbooks which will be converted. This project is one of several approached taken in the past years, to enhance the lives of disabled individuals, maximising their specials talents.