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Pilot course gives sight-impaired people power

From the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind

For immediate release

Pilot course gives sight-impaired people power

On June 14, eight blind and sight-impaired individuals will be the first graduates of the new Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind adaptive technology computer course.

The graduation will be the culmination of a pilot 10-week training programme designed especially for RNZFB members who want to learn Microsoft Applications.

“The training programme is geared towards blind and sight-impaired people seeking to return to work or to enhance their existing work skills,” says Harris Rosensweig, Manager Adaptive Technology, RNZFB.

The students have been learning basic computer operations, how to use email and access the Internet and Word processing to an advanced level.

Helena Tutaeo 27, an employee of the Foundation for the Blind has been gradually losing her sight but had previously learnt Word applications using the mouse.

Now with limited sight Helena has joined this course to update her skills and learn to get around the computer using keystrokes, a screen reader and no mouse.

“My goal is for the computer skills I learn to become second nature. Then I can take the skills back to the Foundation and put them into practice!” Helena says.

Bill Bryan 52, another student in the training programme had never worked on a computer prior to starting the course and is really enjoying getting to grips with it.

“The instructors are brilliant, there’s no pressure, you can achieve in your own time. It really is wonderfully set up,” says Bill.

Bill currently works at Auckland Hospital as a processor of x-rays in the darkroom, but with the introduction of digital x-ray technology, his position will no longer be required.

Bill hopes that with his new computer skills he can slot into some other job at Auckland Hospital or elsewhere.

“I don’t want to be unemployed after working for 28 years,” says Bill.

Sight-impaired, Sheikh Kasim 25, started losing his sight two years ago and wants to find a job as well as being prepared for any further sight loss.

Previously, Sheikh was an accounts administrator and used a computer visually with a mouse.

“Learning Jaws (computer software that translates text into speech) is really good, we’re learning the technology side of things, plus it’s a really good fun class to be in,” says Sheikh.

“The tutors are really good, they know a lot, we’re learning more than what’s in the textbooks!”

The graduation ceremony (by invitation only) will be held from 9am-11am on 14th of June at Awhina House, 4 Maunsell Road in Parnell.

Following the graduation ceremony there will be an Adaptive Technology Open Day from 11am-3pm where the public and the media are warmly invited to attend.

The Open Day will celebrate the release of Pulse Data’s web browser for their Braille Note electronic notetakers and display other technology products which blind and sight-impaired people are being taught to use.

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