Assistance for visually impaired students in three Asian nations [2008/03/05]
Indonesian students learn with computers designed for the visually impaired
With the cooperation of local nongovernmental organizations, the Nippon Foundation is currently undertaking a full-fledged higher-education support project in the three nations of Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines, with the goal of assisting students with limited educational opportunities due to their impaired vision. Based on its initial success in Indonesia in 2006, the project will expand to Vietnam and the Philippines with the ambitious goal of establishing environments in which visually-impaired students can learn like other students.
The assistance for visually impaired students provided at four Indonesian universities includes computer training, textbook conversion to Braille, reading services, and information access. Support centers for visually impaired students have also been established to give students access to computers with screen readers (software that converts words on a computer screen into speech) and services such as counseling and course assistance. These services have won high marks from students and their families. (Photo : Students at an Indonesian support center)
The project will be implemented in Vietnam and the Philippines in the 2007 school year. Plans call for the installation of support centers for visually impaired students at eight sites: two in Indonesia, five in Vietnam, and one in the Philippines. These centers will feature computers for the visually impaired and provide training in their use. In addition, the centers will provide orientation for students planning to enter universities, and training for university faculty and staff. (Photo : Students learning with computers)
Plans call for assistance to 25 eligible students in Indonesia, 50 in Vietnam, and 70 in the Philippines, for a total of 145 students. This support project is expected to make positive changes in the educational environment for visually-impaired students in these three countries, which currently face the following issues: (1) General lack of awareness of the needs of visually-impaired students; (2) the assumption that visually-impaired students are not as capable as other students; (3) the scarcity of teaching materials such as Braille books and books on tape; and (4) lack of other materials, such as computer software. In Asia, less than 10% of all visually impaired persons currently receive primary education, with this percentage falling below 1% at the level of higher education. The need for assistance for visually impaired students in this region is therefore both clear and urgent.