JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Seven special education institutions will now be better equipped to enhance the learning process of students with disabilities, through the use of newly acquired assistive technology provided by the Government of Jamaica.
  • More than 60 pieces of specialised equipment and software, procured by e-Learning Jamaica Limited at a cost of $34 million, were handed over for distribution to the schools.
  • These include printers that convert images and text to brail, and speaking software, which convert text to speech, and vice versa.

Seven special education institutions will now be better equipped to enhance the learning process of students with disabilities, through the use of newly acquired assistive technology provided by the Government of Jamaica.

More than 60 pieces of specialised equipment and software, procured by e-Learning Jamaica Limited at a cost of $34 million, were handed over for distribution to the schools, during a ceremony on Monday, October 13, at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona campus.

These include printers that convert images and text to braille, and speaking software, which convert text to speech, and vice versa.  Beneficiary institutions are: Salvation Army School for the Blind; Lister Mair Gilby School for the Deaf; Woodlawn Special School; Randolf Lopez Special School; Carberry Court Special School; Landilo Special School; and the Danny Williams School for the Deaf.

Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell said the event signaled the Government’s commitment to enhancing the lives of the disabled through the provision of appropriate technology.

He noted that the equipment is critical to improving the level of education among persons with special needs, who will now be empowered to not only improve their learning capabilities but earning potential.

Minister of Education, Hon. Ronald Thwaites, said the handover is a sign of the administration’s thrust to address the needs of the disabled in the society, noting that the equipment provided will “meet the aspirations (and) increase the possibilities of so many persons”.

He said the Ministry would be offering specialist training for teachers in the use of the technology.

President of the Senate and Director of the UWI Centre for Disability Studies, Senator Floyd Morris, described the event as a “joyful moment for persons with disabilities in Jamaica”.

“I am certain that it is triggering hope for a community that for years, has been marginalised, and what we are seeing now is a gradual opening of the doors to create greater space for persons with disabilities, and I am extremely happy that this is happening,” he said.

Principal of UWI, Professor Archibald McDonald, noted that the deaf, blind, physically disabled and those with intellectual disabilities, will benefit from this “transformative initiative”.

He said the intervention will “undoubtedly contribute to marked improvement in the education of persons with disabilities and ultimately lead to their matriculation for tertiary education”.

The equipment was sourced by the UWI Centre for Disability Studies, under a contract entered into with e-Learning Jamaica Limited in March 14 this year for the provision of technology and training services to special needs schools.

The contract included the provision of special equipment; production of videos; and training and management. It also included procurement of software for the deaf, in the form of sign language on DVDs for use in six subject areas: English Language, mathematics, building construction, information technology, biology and woodwork.

The initiative forms part of e-Learning Jamaica’s Secondary Schools Project designed to improve education in Jamaica’s high school system, through the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).