Authentic Inclusion: Assistive Technology to Transform the Lives of Low Vision & Blind People Islandwide
In a study by WHO, about 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of a disability. The estimated number of visually impaired people in the world is 285 million, 39 million blind and 246 million with low vision; 65 % of visually impaired people and 82% of all those who are blind are 50 years and older.
Authentic Inclusion says that every individual, regardless of their ability, disability, or health care needs, should be valued as an important member of our community. Authentic Inclusion shifts our society’s perspective from the belief that inclusion is a basic human right, to the belief that inclusion is, in fact, a value for all. Everyone in society benefits from inclusion – whether it be yourself as one with a disability, the parents of the disabled, employers, co-workers, peers in school, members of government – everyone in society. At Antigua Computer Technology (ACT), we believe that authentic inclusion is an important part of societal improvement. Our three pillars of community support are “Education, Professional Development, and Authentic Inclusion.” It is in these three key areas where we channel most of our social impact resources when striving towards our mission of “bringing our community into the future.”
As Blindness Awareness is recognized during the month of October and based on the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #4, ACT too wants to ensure inclusion and equitable quality education for all. In collaboration with The Carroll Centre for the Blind and the New England Low Vision & Blindness, ACT joins in donating 15 different types of life-changing assistive technology devices to the TN Kirnon Unit for the Blind & Visually Impaired. These devices will improve the lives of the visually impaired students of Antigua and also benefit professionals, the elderly and others as one or two of the devices will be featured at the public library.
These assistive technology devices are 7 table top magnifiers, some of which are portable, 5 portable handheld magnifiers, and 3 texts to speech devices. These devices enlarge print to any size and can convert text to speech. The devices are specifically designed to assist the visually impaired and to make information more accessible. Andrew Doumith, Business Development Manager at ACT, quotes Dr. Aubrey Benson, the UN Ambassador for Antigua & Barbuda, in his remarks at the handover ceremony event – “Technology for people with disabilities is like the wheel is for mankind.”
With this donation, ACT aims to upgrade the TN Kirnon Unit for the Blind & Visually Impaired – making it even more attractive to all students. This will encourage low vision and blind students from primary and secondary schools to learn with the help of assistive technologies under the guidance of well-trained instructors.
ACT believes that the Unit has the capability to serve and accommodate all visually impaired people of Antigua, irrespective of their age or grade level. We are determined to extend the accessibility of the TN Kirnon Unit for the Blind & Visually Impaired to as many people in need as possible. Our goal is to bring hope, confidence, and independence into the lives of people with low vision with the help of assistive technology. Using these devices, say at the public library, can even help elderly people with no particular disability but natural deteriorating eyesight.
1 in 7 people globally has some form of a disability. Authentic Inclusion is an integral value for our community and, at ACT, we believe that if the lack of accessibility to assistive technology and the right instructors hinders the growth of even one differently-abled person, we have failed in our fundamental duty to our community. Little does the average person know, but many of our most used things in the world – that we take for granted – like the Internet, text messaging, and even the telephone was inspired by the deaf community, while things like vehicle cruise control and the world’s deepest diving submarine were invented by the blind. These are simple examples showing the true value of including those with disabilities in all parts of society. And, if we don’t, we risk missing out on such radical value our world is yet to see.
Globally, 1 BILLION people have a reported form of a disability; visual and hearing impairments are second and third on the list. With this little step with The Carroll Centre for the Blind and New England Low Vision & Blindness, ACT hopes to bring our community towards a better and brighter future. One step at a time as we strive towards true authentic inclusion.
We actively participate in such initiatives that positively impact our community. We post updates about such initiatives on ACT’s social media and website. Show your support by following us on Instagram and Facebook. Want to make a change in our community? We are ready to join hands with you. Reach out to us to collaborate with us today.