Friday, January 20, 2012

Blind learners studying computers - help please!

I recently had the pleasure of visiting a wonderful school Pioneer School for the Blind where every cent collected is used to good effect. Learners come to this school in Worcester in the Western Cape from as far away as the Free State because of what this government school has to offer. It offers a way of life for those who need special care. It is a school for the blind and partially sighted. I went to see how they learn to use the computer and study the subject Computer Applications Technology (CAT). One of the learners from this school was the top learner in the country in Matric 2011 from a special needs school and she also studied CAT.
I was shown how a partially sighted learner used the screen enlargement software Magic. That worked well. I was most disturbed when I saw a totally blind youngster use the computer! He was working with Office 2003 – with Jaws, software that reads information on the screen using synthesized speech. I asked why he was using such an old version of Office. The answer – they have licenses for an old version of Jaws which only reads 2003. They need to get a newer version of Jaws in order to read Office 2010. The CAT curriculum will require 2010 soon. They have to get up to date! They need the latest version of Jaws but it costs about R120 000 for 30 licences. And they do not have the money at the moment. They are able to get the Microsoft Office Suite at a reduced cost, the same as all government schools, and then they have this additional cost!
Computers are the way these youngsters are going to earn a living when they leave school! It would be wonderful if every computer class in South Africa had a cake sale or other fund raiser and helped these CAT learners. It would be wonderful if every person who views this blog contributed in some way. The URL of the school is There is a link to do an electronic donation. Let us all donate to the school, requesting that the money be used for computer needs. Please.
It would be wonderful if you dropped me an e-mail at to tell me if you donated and if this blog posting made any difference. This posting is from me in my personal capacity.
I believe in the idiom ‘What goes around comes around’.


Dr Pam Miller said...

If you go to this URL you can do an EFT

Dr Pam Miller said...

To answer the comment about Access this is what a teacher who uses Jaws says - They can create a form/ report in Design View but cannot do any formatting or changes, nor calculations.

And please remember that if you ever use an image or a screen dump they must copy, you must describe it as they cannot see it at all. And please tell all the other teachers at the school, so he answer exam questions.

Send me an email and I can give you the name of a person who uses Jaws.

Dr Pam Miller said...

I found this posting on a different part of the blog and brought it here - Pam
I teach a blind leaner who works with the JAWS program. I am in awe of him. The program does give us hassles especially when using Access which I thought would be the best program for him to learn. Maybe you now of someone who can assist us. Going to chat to my Gr 12 class tomorrow and see what we can contribute to the worthy cause.

Dr Pam Miller said...

The blind learners apparently like Excel but cannot read or edit a graph, not fit a document onto 1 page.
I am so glad you are going to organise a fund raiser.

BGR said...

Pam thanks for this. Am going to get my learners to make some donations next week (big jar by tuckshop!!).