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Uzbekistan: Information Technologies Skills Open New Opportunities for Blind People
Source: uzreport.com
Source Date: Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Focus: Internet Governance
Country: Uzbekistan
Created: Aug 08, 2010

Two month computer courses for blind people were completed at Computer resource center of the cultural house Sanat Gulshani (attached to Society of Blinds).

This center was created with the support of joint projects "ACCESS" and "Assisting the Government of Uzbekistan in the formulation and implementation of ICT for development" (ICTP), implemented by UNDP in cooperation with the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of Population of the Republic Uzbekistan and the Uzbek Agency for Communication and Information, also with a support of the World Bank in Uzbekistan.

Blind people and people with impaired vision, completed computer courses are now able to use special software JAWS, special equipment SARA, TOPAZ, and be able to be in touch with the world information and communication technology (ICT), the use of various literature, read newspapers and magazines, use the Internet network, to find friends there, to communicate and exchange information.

"This is my second year working with the JAWS program, and I really at hand. I am a philologist and I have a lot to write, do researches where JAWS just saves me. Being blind, I was able to create website and place there all sorts of information about outstanding scientists with disabilities, scientists who being blind and achieved a lot. Now I would like one, so the JAWS program will be nationalized and that it sounded in Uzbek language. I think the organizers of the training will take our demands into consideration," said Munavvara Kurbanov, Ph.D. in Philology, participant of the training course.

Today, all over the country operate 80 libraries for the blind, which services are used by 40 thousand of our compatriots and blind people with impaired vision. Over 700 blind university students have no access to ICT, which is the main aim of the courses where the emphasis was based on creating opportunities for people with disabilities to obtain, analyze and utilize information.

According to the reporter of "Bir Safda" journal of the Society of Blinds, Nadira Zakirova, she improved her journalistic skills and activity by the assistance of the trainings conducted by the ACCESS and ICTP projects.

"Before I wrote my first article in Braille, and then for publishing it in the magazine, I had to rewrite them. For this I needed help of another person. Now with the help of JAWS I can type the articles on the computer and prepare for publication. This is very comfortable and exciting process for me," says Nadira.

It should be noted that after the end of the course, Nadira was able independently create and design a web site of the journal "Bir Safda.

Upon awarding of certificates to graduates of computer courses, Assistant Resident Representative of UNDP in Uzbekistan, Sitara Syed stressed the importance of these trainings.

"Looking at you, I see how you crave to obtain information on a par with everyone. These courses are only the beginning, and it is important to know your opinion about the quality and content of our training. Based on your responses, we will further strive to improve our courses and create new opportunities for access to information for blind people," said Ms. Sitara Syed.

In future ACCESS project plans to conduct similar courses in all regions of Uzbekistan. In this purpose, the main partners of the project are German Society for Technical Cooperation in Uzbekistan (GTZ) and the World Bank Office in Uzbekistan.

The main goal is to adapt blind people to the modern labor market, tp break stereotypes and stigma in society, develop professional capacity and motivation of participants to conduct similar training courses on their own in other regions of the country.

The project ACCESS (Accessibility, Civic Consciousness, Employment and Social Support for People with Disabilities) was approved by the Ministry of Labor and social Security and UNDP in August 2008. It acts on the basis of the new edition of the Law of The Republic of Uzbekistan "On social security of people with disabilities" that was adopted in the year 2008.

The project is foreseen to operate for two years during which it intends to work on increasing public awareness on the disability issue, enhance the coordination of governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations the activities of which are oriented to assist people with disabilities, improve accessibility of the surrounding environment and assist with job placements of people with disabilities.
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