Commercial Bank of Ceylon donated 20 specially-designed laptops and software to help undergraduates with vision impairments. The awarding of the laptops was held at the Kandy Teaching Hospital. The Bank said the widescreen laptops have a software program titled ‘Jaws’ installed by the Centre for Sight (CFS) Kandy, which reads out what is being typed on the keyboard, enabling users to correct their mistakes.
Commercial began this endeavor in 2014 and laptops were given to students from the Ruhuna, Peradeniya, Colombo, Sri Jayewardenepura, Kelaniya and Jaffna universities. “We have heard that these laptops have removed many barriers to their education,” Commercial Bank’s Managing Director Mr Jegan Durairatnam said. “These students use their laptops for recording lectures, planning out and typing their theses, making presentations and for searching for information.”
Before they received the laptops with Jaws software, students with visual impairments made audio recordings of lectures, listened to them and attempted to take notes. However, ambient noise resulted in indistinct recordings, and their lecture notes were rarely complete. Using the laptops donated by Commercial Bank, they now download recorded lectures, achieving improved clarity and better notes, he explained.
Most of these students used braille to produce their presentations and theses, and read them aloud to friends who were not visually impaired, who then wrote out their assignments for them. They are now able to work independently and have started answering their examinations using the donated laptops.