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.