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Uzbekistan: ICT Creates New Opportunities for Blind and Visually Impaired People
Source: news.uzreport.com
Source Date: Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Focus: ICT for MDGs, Internet Governance
Country: Uzbekistan
Created: May 17, 2010

Computer Resource Center for Blind People will be opened at the Republican Central Library for blind people. The Center was created with the support of ACCESS and ICTP projects of the United Nations Development Program in Uzbekistan, and equipped with special technical appliances and free network access to the Internet. Now blind and visually impaired people will be in touch with the news around the world and communication technologies using special software programs such as JAWS, SARA, TOPAZ, and also be able to access various literature, read newspapers and magazines, use the Internet, find friends there, and communicate and exchange
Through these special programs blind and visually impaired people will be able to listen to information in audio format displayed on the computer, and use special magnifying equipment to increase the text to the right size for independent reading. Moreover, special scanner helps translate books into a special format that allows one to read and print any kind of literature and publications. By now nearly 80 libraries specialized for blind people operate throughout Uzbekistan where nearly 40 thousand of visually impaired users come to find information they are interested in. The Republican Central Library for blind people serves approximately for 4000 users with disabilities and their families, provides them "talking" literature in the form of magazines and books printed in Braille.

The Library is ready to provide visually impaired people with not only the above mentioned literature, but also the opportunity to better discover the world through ICT, which helps them to integrate fully into society. Today, the services of the library are used by blind citizens, employees of organizations, institutions and enterprises of Blinds society, students and teachers of boarding schools for blind children. In addition to equipping the library, several trainings and study classes for blind and visually impaired people were conducted for improved access to the information.

According to Nodira Zokirova, a reporter of the magazine "Bir Safda" who is also visually impaired and works for Blinds society, these training programs organized by ACCESS and ICTP projects were very helpful for further development of her journalism career. "Before I wrote my articles in Braille alphabet, and then for publication I used to ask external assistance to rewrite them. It took longer time and was not an easy process. Now, with the help of JAWS, I can type my articles on the computer and prepare them for publication myself. It is more comfortable and exciting process," says Nodira. Braille version of UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan "On
social protection of people with disabilities", and "notes" of Sashmaqom collection will be also presented at the opening ceremony of "–°omputer Resource Center for Blind People" where you can also find booklets of the project in Braille.
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