BRAILLE EMBOSSER NEEDED

Who is Anil?

Totally blind since birth Anil is working on attaining a Master’s degree in Computer Science at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago. He presently holds a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology. He is dedicated to improving the lives of members of the blind community in Trinidad through his talent for innovation and his technical skills to adapt various technologies to accommodate the needs of those with visual impairment. He was responsible for offering the first Windows 8 course in 2013 to visually impaired and blind individuals in the Caribbean through the use of voice over IP and virtualization technology. In addition, he has also configured an accessible Windows 7 installation and a Client for Use on Facebook.

Trying to get educated.

In North America, students with blindness face great challenges in learning as well but the huge difference between North America and Trinidad and Tobago is that there are vast resources available to support visually impaired students in North America. There are specialist teachers who have studied the unique needs of visually impaired students, there are mobility specialists, GPS devices, braillists, specialized technology, braille books, audio books, tactile graphics, the list goes on. 

In Trinidad, Anil and other visually impaired students have very sparse, intermittent and poor quality support. To quote Anil regarding the situation for blind students in Trinidad, “Blind students in Trinidad think failing is a destination not a choice since the resources available to them are limited. This is because the system (education) places a limit on the blind student by: 1. Providing braille material late, having only manual braillists who are blind. Graphics are out of the question because the TTBWA (Trinidad and Tobago Blind Welfare Association) and the School for the Blind will not allow the blind braillists to use the embosser. 2. Any books in braille are either rushed braille with a lot of mistakes or not available. 3. The Ministry of Education will not accept blind students into normal school if there are no Special Ed teachers available. The few that are accepted will get a Special Ed teacher who will only show up once or twice per year.” Fortunately, Anil was able to attend “normal school”.

Particularly in Secondary School Anil had so little support and he was so motivated to learn he ended up advocating for himself 100 percent. In order to survive within the regular classroom, where most teachers seemed to have no time or interest in finding ways to support him, on his own initiative he took a tape recorder to classes. He also asked teachers to allow students who were in class serving detentions to read out class notes to him so that he could braille them out on his manual Perkins brailler. In elementary and high school no technological devices such as a laptop with screen reading software or BrailleNote Apex Notetaker etc., were made available for Anil’s use by the Ministry of Education in Trinidad and Tobago. A further comment of Anil’s regarding the school situation for visually impaired students is, “Currently visually impaired and blind students in Trinidad and Tobago are assessed on materials that they have little or no access to. Therefore, they face the risk of becoming dropouts.”

Never gives up.

As a university student in a technical, science based program things have been increasingly difficult for Anil. Diagrams are a huge part of the course work and at this time Anil has no access to them. In fact, it is because of this problem and the university’s inability to effectively deal with the dilemma that Anil’s pursuit of his Master’s degree is presently at a stand-still.

Being the motivated and determined person that Anil is he has come up with a solution. He wants to purchase a Premier 100 Braille Embosser which comes with Tiger Suite software from ViewPlus Technologies based in the US. This is a sturdy embosser which will not only produce excellent quality braille in high volume but also produces the highest quality tactile graphics available. Having this embosser will provide Anil with much needed access to curriculum materials which his sighted university peers have the luxury of so easily accessing. This will help Anil tremendously in finishing his Master’s degree and enable him to pursue a PhD. degree if he chooses to do so.

Not all just about him.

Anil isn’t just thinking about himself in regards to acquiring the Premier 100 Braille Embosser. As he says it, he is “looking at the big picture” and will utilize the embosser to help out other braille using students and individuals. Anil’s goal is to organize an initiative to provide braille and tactile graphic materials in a timely fashion to blind students in Trinidad and Tobago and other Caribbean Islands. He wants to give a much needed boost to fairness for braille using students in accessing required learning materials as well as the enhancement of understanding and learning.

Assistance via Canada

Anil’s vision for what needs to be done to improve the present, long standing situation for blind and visually impaired students, and adults in Trinidad and Tobago and throughout the Caribbean, coupled with his drive to make things better, however he can, plus his obvious intelligence has inspired me to want to help out. A Go Fund Me campaign seems a good way to raise the funds Anil needs to purchase the Premier 100 Embosser. As Go Fund Me campaigns are not supported in the Caribbean I have volunteered to set one up here in Canada on Anil’s behalf. Any donations contributed to the campaign are held by the Go Fund Me organization and will go to my bank account here in Canada once I request to withdraw the money raised from the campaign. If we are wildly successful and meet our dollar goal I will purchase the embosser with the campaign funs and have it shipped to Anil in Trinidad. If we don’t attain our goal at the time it is decided to close down the campaign any money that has been raised will be withdrawn by me from Go Fund Me and deposited to my Canadian bank account. I will then wire transfer the money from my bank directly to Anil’s account at the Republic Bank in Trinidad. To date, Anil has raised $5,000 TT dollars towards the embosser himself in Trinidad. 

Celia Martinez is a braillist living in Toronto, Canada and has worked in the school system with visually impaired children for many years. Through family she has ties to Trinidad and Tobago.

Please help us out with this drive to get a braille embosser which will greatly benefit Anil and the other visually impaired students/people in Trinidad and Tobago in whatever way works best for you. In today’s world where so many things seem crazy, negative and downright nasty this is something good, helpful, worthy and positive which we can all be a part of, even in a small way!

Please read the article below from UWI Today (University of the West Indies) about Anil. It was written a few years ago but gives a little more insight into this admirable young man.

Thank you for your time, attention and hopefully participation, even in a small way, in this quest.

Celia

http://sta.uwi.edu/uwitoday/archive/february_2012/article12.asp