Learn­ers with spe­cial needs re­ceive world-class tech­nol­ogy

Vuk'uzenzele - - Edguecnaetrioanl - More Mat­shediso

As the world evolves into a dig­i­tal era, learn­ers with spe­cial needs should not be left be­hind when their peers ex­pe­ri­ence new tech­nol­ogy as part of learn­ing in schools.

This is why the De­part­ment of So­cial De­vel­op­ment and the MTN SA Foun­da­tion do­nated com­put­ers that have spe­cial soft­ware to the Efata School for the Blind and Deaf in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.

Efata has 411 learn­ers; 124 are blind and 287 are deaf.

The act­ing prin­ci­pal of the school, Yolande Mtwa, said two com­puter lab­o­ra­to­ries, each with 22 spe­cially adapted com­put­ers, were do­nated. The com­bined value of the labs is around R3 mil­lion.

The com­put­ers for learn­ers liv­ing with vi­sion dis­abil­i­ties have text-to-speech ca­pa­bil­i­ties and ear­phones so that each learner can fo­cus on their own work. Also do­nated was a printer with braille trans­la­tor soft­ware, which con­verts print-based text to braille and vice versa. For deaf learn­ers, Mtwa said the com­put­ers have spe­cial soft­ware that will help them with their main sub­jects, in­clud­ing South African Sign Lan­guage.

“The com­put­ers also have CAPS-ori­en­tated text­book soft­ware which will en­hance teach­ing and learn­ing in our school,” she said.

Mtwa en­cour­aged par­ents to take an in­ter­est in their chil­dren’s school­work and be more in­volved in school ac­tiv­i­ties.

“Par­ents need to reg­u­larly visit their chil­dren in the school and not only see them dur­ing school hol­i­days,” she said.

An­other ex­cit­ing an­nounce­ment on the day was that the ser­vices of sign lan­guage tutors had been se­cured to help par­ents of deaf chil­dren learn sign lan­guage in or­der to bet­ter com­mu­ni­cate with them.

The de­part­ment’s deputy min­is­ter, Hen­dri­etta Bo­gopane-Zulu, who is also par­tially blind, said the do­na­tion of com­puter cen­tres like th­ese is aligned with the plans set out in the White Pa­per on the Rights of Per­sons with Dis­abil­i­ties 2015-2030.

“The White Pa­per calls for the re­moval of dis­crim­i­nat­ing bar­ri­ers to ac­cess and par­tic­i­pa­tion and en­sures that the rights of per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties to equal­ity and ac­cess are re­alised,” she said.

The school is one of 40 that will be re­ceiv­ing com­puter lab­o­ra­to­ries in 2018 through the pub­lic pri­vate part­ner­ship be­tween the De­part­ment of So­cial De­vel­op­ment and the MTN SA Foun­da­tion.

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