The simplest forms of technology could really go a long way. St. Nicholas' Home, Penang, not only embodied the essence of that phrase, but, they also stood as an exemplary model that can shows us the ability of everyday technology to help people.
Standing as the first and the oldest nonprofit school for the blind in Malaysia, St. Nicholas' Home, Penang has tirelessly lent its efforts to help improve the lives of the blind and the visually impaired for over 88 years, beginning 1926.
With nearing to a century’s worth of experience, St. Nicholas' Home, Penang now provides over 15 different programs which are all looking to help the blind and visually impaired in varying areas such as education, independent living skills, social and communication skills, and most especially, information communication and technology (ICT).
Sharing about their various ICT-related programs for the blind and the simple types of technology that they’re using for these purposes was the Home’s Executive Director, Daniel Soon. Through the use of Windows 7 Operating Systems and Office 2010 Suites donated by Microsoft, Daniel shares how the Home has now been able to help a handful of blind persons learn how to use screen readers, communications programs (Skype, etc.), office applications and even social media.
Alternatively, through the effective use of these simple technology, the Home is now also able to provide additional ICT trainings for about 20 to 30 blind persons annually. This training includes Computer Programming (via Python) and even Internet Marketing!
But these aren’t just simple trainings. Instead, these are actually independent components of the International Computer Driving License (ICDL). The ICDL is an internationally recognized qualification which employers can use to certify one’s competence in the field of ICT.
That said, through the Home’s effective use of technology, not only are they helping provide added knowledge for the blind and the visually-impaired, but, they’re also providing professional credentials as well; all of that to help the blind and the visually-impaired to realize their individual capacities and to move beyond their impairment.
In addition to their use of simple software for their ICT trainings, Daniel also shares how they managed to gain access to a couple of Windows Server donations (2008 Enterprise and 2008 Datacentre) via TechSoup Asia. These in turn are currently being used to backup their files and also to run virtual machines during trainings.
Now amidst the significant impact that they’ve already made with only the use of simply software in-hand, Daniel shares that they’re still looking into using other emerging technology like Microsoft’s Cloud tool - Office 365 - and see how it can help them in the near future.