- The Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) has provided $7.3 million to the University of Technology (UTech) to continue the development of the U-Touch multi-media software.
- A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the parties today (January 14) to undertake phase two of the project, U-Touch 2.
- Speaking at the signing, Acting President, UTech, Ambassador the Hon. Burchell Whiteman, said the project is “satisfying” as it demonstrates UTech’s commitment to improving the lives of marginalised groups.
The Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) has provided $7.3 million to the University of Technology (UTech) to continue the development of the U-Touch multi-media software, designed to enhance the learning process for deaf and hearing impaired students.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the parties today (January 14) to undertake phase two of the project, U-Touch 2.
The signing, which took place at UTech’s Papine campus in St. Andrew also involved the Lister Mair Gilby School for the Deaf, (LMG) which has been partnering with UTech since the development of the software in 2010.
The software uses both Jamaican sign language and Jamaican Standard English and functions on both computers and android platforms, to improve the understanding and use of the English language and enhance reading and comprehension skills, among deaf and hard of hearing students, at the pre-primary to high school levels.
Speaking at the signing, Acting President, UTech, Ambassador the Hon. Burchell Whiteman, said the project is “satisfying” as it demonstrates UTech’s commitment to improving the lives of marginalised groups.
“I feel very pleased that UTech, as a result of this particular project, will be identified in the public mind as being a good citizen, and also committed to the service of the people,” he said.
He thanked DBJ for supporting the project and “enabling it to take wings and reach higher levels and impact significantly more people”.
General Manager, Strategic Services, DBJ, Claudine Tracey, said the project is directly aligned to the DBJ’s mission to improve the quality of life of all Jamaicans.
“We believe that this is an excellent opportunity to reach out to disadvantaged groups, and include them in the economic growth and prosperity of this country,” she said.
For Board Chair, LMG, Carole Fox, the development of this learning tool will make a significant difference in the lives of deaf persons at LMG and Jamaica, by improving user competence.
She noted that UTech, aided by DBJ, has added another facet to the technology “which will have tremendous impact on the quality of work done at LMG and ultimately in the lives of those students there – this is progress”.
In the meantime, Dean, College of Business and Management, Dr. Paul Golding, under whose leadership the first phase of the project was developed, said it is imperative that education is as inclusive as possible.
“What we at UTech want to do, is to be able to open avenues to learning, open opportunities for education and growth and development for (the deaf and hearing impaired) community,” he said.
The project is expected to improve the likelihood of beneficiaries satisfactorily completing their secondary education and benefitting from higher education. It is also anticipated that it will improve the status of local sign language.
The project also has the potential to: assist the entire local deaf and hard of hearing community, which is estimated at 75,000, including adult learners; develop similar content to assist students with other learning challenges; improve teachers’ pedagogical strategies for quality output; and there is potential for replication of the project throughout the Caribbean.
Under the project, UTech is to prepare and complete a research paper with a proposed framework on how to develop multi-media learning software targeting deaf learners and persons with learning challenges.
The total cost of the project is $10.3 million with UTech providing $3 million in counterpart funding.
In addition to the development of U-Touch 2, DBJ’s assistance will also go towards public awareness-related activities.