IBM Philippines and Resources for the Blind, Inc. (RBI) once again collaborate to help visually-challenged public school students to develop skills to help them gain employment through the 13th National Computer Camp for Blind Students.
Launched in 2001, and also known as “Computer Eyes”, the annual event gathers twenty (20) visually impaired students from high school to undergo a computer education workshop on computer applications, such as document processing, spreadsheet calculations, web page creation, including use of social networks. Individuals who participate in the program come from various locations across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
Designed to give students the ability to develop skills, Computer Eyes has already enabled 124 of its alumni to go on and find work in various industries with 94 completing college degrees. After graduating from the program, students can apply their skills in real life, allowing them to do online research and complete their assignments and projects using a computer.
Computer Eyes leverages on the combined efforts of IBM and RBI. Students and trainers are referred by RBI, while IBM provides computers, learning spaces, and the time of volunteer IBMers.
Using a special software, students are taught basic computer skills, are trained on various productivity programs, and are enabled to explore the internet. Called, Jobs Access With Speech or JAWS, the said application converts the text displayed in the computer into speech. With this, users are able to navigate through the computer screen by listening. Typing is assisted by a synthetic human voice, which allows the user to keep track of the letters being encoded. Printing is not a concern because documents can be translated into Braille, which is then embossed by a special machine onto paper.
“IBM is committed to developing the skills of our uniquely-abled community members so they can have a better future,” said Luis Pineda, IBM Philippines President and Country General Manager. “JAWS can help our campers in their studies, improve their computer competency, and allow them to join the workforce or continue further studies.”
“We are grateful for the continued support and enthusiasm of IBM in this project,” says Randy Weisser, RBI Executive Director. “Computer Eyes has established itself as among our most sustainable collaborative programs.”
For more than 10 years, Computer Eyes has produced over 340 graduates. During IBM’s global centennial in 2011, the program was opened for 100 students.
IN PHOTO: (Seated from left to right) Mayette Regala, Resources for the Blind, Inc. Program Coordinator; Agnes Africa, IBM Philippines Country Marketing, Communications, and CC&CA Leader; Luis Pineda, IBM Philippines President and Country General Manager; Carla Grant Pickens, IBM Philippines HR Leader; and Randy Weisser, Resources for the Blind, Inc. Executive Director.