MOA Signing Between ATRIEV and Capiz State University: Building Bridges Towards Inclusive Society

Image contains Ms. Lourdes Borgonia (ATRIEV’s program coordinator), Dr. May Dumapig (campus administrator), Dr. Judel Protacio (dean of College of Education, Arts and Sciences), Ms. Sandra Escabarte (CapSU Pontevedra Extension in-charge), and Dr. Matilde Tonel( extension coordinator) signing the MOA contract.

Over the years, ATRIEV has been successful in making its mission possible in transforming the lives of hundreds of people with visual impairment and educating thousands of teachers, parents and other stakeholders through its programs and services. Of course, it will not happen without the support and assistance of different private and public institutions such as schools, universities, companies and other agencies.

Taking steps to Possibilities

Capiz State University(CapSU), a public educational institution, has expressed care and support for persons with visual impairment in Visayas and decided to sign a memorandum of agreement in partnership with ATRIEV.

CapSU was no longer a newbie when it comes to trainings for visually-impaired students and for teachers because Dr. May D. Dumapig, the CapSU-Pontevedra campus administrator, is a mother to a low vision person, and has already joined a lot of ATRIEV’s computer trainings for teachers and parents in the past years. ATRIEV had also conducted a five-day Android training of trainers for the first time in the same campus last 2016, and was attended by 30 SPED teachers, student teachers and CapSU teaching personnel.

On July 22, 2019 , CapSU-Pontevedra has finally strengthened the bind between ATRIEV and CapSU through a MOA signing that will be effective within three years. It was represented by the ATRIEV trainers, Ms. Lourdes Borgonia (ATRIEV’s program coordinator), Dr. May D. Dumapig (campus administrator), Dr. Judel V. Protacio (dean of College of Education, Arts and Sciences), Ms. Sandra Escabarte (CapSU Pontevedra Extension in-charge), and Dr. Matilde C. Tonel( extension coordinator). It was held during the opening ceremony for the five-day Windows trainers training and was witnessed by the representatives from different schools, stakeholders and linkages around the province of Capiz.

Both parties agreed to join force for a program titled “BALIKATAN”, under the banner program of CapSU-Pontevedra, Extension Department with the slogan: “Suporta sa Aton Komunidad para sa paglab-ot sang ila Damgo kag Gugma sa Pagbag-o – support for our community to reach their dreams and to love change (SAKDAG-sa Pagbag-o).”

This program aims to increase community awareness and participation on inclusive education, launch support programs for students with special needs, develop a more committed and competent faculty to handle students with special needs, and equip persons with disabilities the appropriate skills and knowledge in using technology for learning and entrepreneurial ventures.

These will be conducted through activities such as training for teachers and students with special needs, training of trainers for the visually impaired on using computer applications and Community-based training for stakeholders and persons with disability.

Join Us with Our Mission

Compared to other progressive countries, it’s still a long way for us to achieve a friendly society for persons with disability, however, leading this kind of partnership project would be a great start in breaking barriers and building bridges towards inclusion and accessibility.

Just like what Helen Keller quoted, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Let’s work hand-in-hand in accomplishing our mission to empower persons with disability, improve their way of living, stop stereotyping, inculcate disability awareness and encourage inclusion for all.

Write, Create and Enjoy

Collage images of Writing for The Web Trainees.

The First Batch of Writing for the Web Training for Students
Conducted in partnership with
TELUS International Philippines

Introduction

In today’s modern era of technology, we are already witnessing a lot of improvement in people’s lives, not just in terms of education and entertainment, but also when it comes to business and employment.

One of these trending types of income generators online is being a home-based writer, and you know what? People with disability are also qualified to be an author, a vlogger, a blogger and a writer of other kinds of content that you can find over the web. In that way, persons with disability can earn money on their own, without leaving the comforts of their homes.

Writing for the Web Training is an exciting and comprehensive 30-day class conducted by ATRIEV I.T. Center for the Blind that caters people with visual, speech and mobility impairment, and guides them in discovering their voice, their style and their strength as a writer. It is incorporated with fun activities that the trainees can enjoy while learning the different tips and tricks of writing.

My Personal Experience as a Trainer

When I was appointed to be one of the selected trainers of this training, I felt a bit nervous. It was my first time to lead this kind of training, but my excitement to teach and mold trainees into a productive individual through writing and technology helped me to get over with my hesitations.

We have gathered 11 trainees with visual impairment, four with mobility impairment and one with speech impairment, and they are all eager to learn and practice what they’ve learned from each session.

This training served as a fun and one of a kind teaching and learning experience for me as a trainer. I had a lot of first times. Aside from the fact that this was my first time to conduct this kind of course, it was also my first time to handle a class composed of participants with cross disability as a 30-day center-based training.

It was both challenging and exciting at the same time, because of the wide range of the age, personality, writing experience and disability of the trainees, that everyone had to adjust with each other’s needs in terms of instructional aids and assistance.

Trainees with mobility and speech impairment served as the eyes, reader, guide, and color and image descriptor of the blind. The visually-impaired participants became the hands and feet of their classmates who have difficulties in moving and walking. In spite of their limitations and differences in most aspects, still, they have shown helpfulness, adaptability, unity and empathy to each other.

To cater to the needs and learning styles of the trainees, I, together with my other co-trainers, made it sure that no-one was left behind. We created PowerPoint presentations, distributed reading materials, allotted time for video viewing, used cloud storage and social media to transfer files, inserted some energizers in between discussions, and had a one-on-one coaching to those who needed assistance when it comes to writing.

Course Highlights

Apart from the daily discussions we had, we also had the highlights of the training that all our trainees had to go through to be successful in completing the whole course.

Writing Activities

The large portion of the training was spent on writing. We had a daily 10-minute writing exercise with different themes, topics and classifications. We also tasked the trainees to write movie, restaurant and product reviews, travel logs, rewritten articles, how-tos, scripts, interviews and stories based on their own experiences.

Some articles were read aloud by the trainees with mobility impairment and everyone had the chance to give feedback to the writer. Most of them were anxious to have their articles be heard by the whole class and were hesitant to give comments at first, but then, they had overcome their fears as the days went by.

Creating a Website

Using WordPress, a website creation tool, the trainees were guided through step-by-step procedure in creating, designing and navigating their own websites.

Low vision, mobility and speech impaired trainees worked hand-in-hand with totally blind participants in doing their projects, especially with the visual aspects of the website, such as the images, designs, colors and other graphical features of WordPress. The screen reader also made it possible for them to navigate and explore their website on their own.

Posting Visuals for Social Media

During the social media marketing class, it was explained that aside from the stories in text, visuals such as videos and images are also important keys to create eye-catching, readable and likable posts. Although having mostly visually-impaired participants, we asked everyone to use their mobile phones in taking medium-shot photos for the quote card. Mobility and speech impaired trainees were all willing to help their totally blind co-trainees to capture photos through different techniques and strategies. Later on, all visually-impaired participants, including those inborn blind, had a chance to take pictures independently.

Through the quote card created and edited by the trainees, they also made a print design for the class T-shirt with their class picture on it.

Shoot Day

Online videos such as vlogs and listicles are also a type of web content. One of the major projects of the trainees is to write, shoot and edit a five-minute video based on their chosen topics with the same theme and target audience.

The class was divided into three groups and each group had to submit a video that can be informative, inspiring and entertaining.

Before the day of the shooting, the trainees had prepared all the needed tasks and materials for their video. They had even undergone a one-day script writing workshop for their video scripts and selected members to be the director, script writer, cameraman and production assistant.

During the shoot day, everyone executed their assigned tasks very well. We started as early as 7:00 AM and finished the shoot of all the groups’ videos before 6:00 PM.

Video bits and cuts were needed to be collected, compiled and edited in order to create a five-minute video, and so the days after the shoot day were spent in teaching the trainees on editing videos using PowerPoint and the built-in video editors in their computers.

Through the assistance of the trainers, sighted and low vision trainees, totally blind participants also had a chance to trim videos and add sound background on the videos they had edited.

Interview with the Experts

One week before the training had ended, we have invited experts from different established companies such as publishing company, restaurant, events venue and construction company, to conduct a short interview about their branding, unique value proposition and everything about their business.

All trainees were all active in asking questions and the guests were also enthusiastic in answering the inquiries from the trainees. In connection with writing, the trainees learned the importance of branding, voice and style as a writer after the interview sessions with the experts.

Conclusion

This training might have a lot of challenges, surprises, twists and turns, but I can say that it has been a wonderful rollercoaster ride for me as a trainer. I met and taught new people, observed their progress as trainees, read their articles, gave them feedback, provided them with activities, inspired them and watched them learn and enjoy the training at the same time.

30 days are not enough to be expert in writing but with a great determination and practice, everyone can be better at this craft. I believe that each trainee has something to improve and all of them are entitled to achieve the writing path they are heading to.

Find the Value of Life

Image of Ms. Jaelene Cristel Mina smiling and text.

2X2 + 5X – 3 = 0

Gosh! That’s an algebraic equation. I dislike math; I dislike numbers and I’m not good at solving arrhythmic equations, especially when the teacher is not that willing to assist a visually impaired student like me.

What the teachers usually do was to point on the board and say, “Transpose this number to here and put it right there.”

How would a blind ever understand an Algebra lesson in that method of teaching?

But wait, I will not talk about how bad I was in math or how the other teachers executed mathematical lessons then. Let me share a story about a particular teacher who made a great impact in my life, whom I met in my second year high school, in June of 2006.

Introducing Ms. Jean, a teacher who is described to be a petite lady with a fair skin and a kind face. She has a gentle but modulated voice that sounded so friendly to me.

Do you have an idea what subject she taught? I guess you already got it. Yes, it was math, the subject I hated the most.

Though math is not the type of subject that I really enjoyed that time, I still found it interesting because of the way of Ms. Jean’s execution of the lessons. She’s not the this and that type of teacher. She was so descriptive and specific when explaining equations to the class. In that way, I was never out of place and it seemed like I’m not a visually impaired at all.

I can still vividly remember how we went on with our daily class routine. We started with a prayer then Ms. Jean would share a positive quote or a verse from the bible and let us reflect on it for a while.

She has been an encouraging teacher to everybody. She has always wanted her students to participate in all class activities and get high grades. She was not stock to the traditional math class type where in the teacher would just explain the lesson, give exercises and then dismiss the class.

Ms. Jean let the students to excel in their own strengths. She let us compose a math jingle, play games and collect ribbons. The ribbons would be given to us everytime we participate in the class discussion, get high scores and win from a group game. Those ribbons were collected and later on, would be compiled on a portfolio to be submitted every after grading period along with the quiz papers, answer sheets with scores, assignments and the written quotes and verses shared by Ms. Jean.

She’s eager to conduct review and remedial class whenever she found out that we could not understand a certain topic. She really wanted every student to pass and even outstand in her subject without pressure.

She made sure that no-one, including me, was not left behind to her subject. When she was not busy with her paper works, she would sit next to me and assist me in doing the exercises. There were also times that she used her finger to draw the mathematical equation on the palm of my hand just to demonstrate how the numbers were transposed, substituted and solved.

If it happened that she was not available, she would assign one of my classmates to sit beside me and help me cope with the lessons. To be fair with everyone, Ms. Jean arranged the student assignment as my tutor alphabetically, just in case she wouldn’t be around to teach me.

Everyday, my classmates took turns in tutoring me. Some cooperated willingly, some did not, some were doubtful, and some were just doing it because it’s needed.

Ms. Jean taught us a lot of great things. She did not only teach us how to find the value of X, solve mathematical problems and answer algebraic equations, but she had also shown us that nothing is impossible if you would just trust God and believe in your abilities.

In 10 months of being Ms. Jean’s student, I have learned to multiply perseverance, divide love, add enthusiasm, subtract worries and find the value of life.