ATRIEV is Where I Belong

Image of Edrian Delos Reyes smiling and text.

by Edrian delos Reyes

“You are blind now! Accept it and go on with your life!”

I said that line to myself numerous times, but it wasn’t that easy. It was hard for me to accept that I’m a visually impaired now. My life changed and I just couldn’t keep up with the changes.

Even though I was in an online school, I didn’t feel like I was moving forward. I took the recommended subjects for my first term, but I eventually dropped one subject. It was really hard for me because I depended on no one but myself. I was doing my best, but I knew something was wrong.

I wanted to enter a regular college, but I didn’t think that I can cope with the studies because of my poor vision. So guess what? I didn’t even try going to a regular college! No matter how hard my friends pushed me to not worry and just trust myself, I just couldn’t find the courage to even try enrolling. Maybe if I know a blind person who achieved something despite this disability, I would find the courage I needed. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the case.

I hated feeling this way—of being left behind—so I knew I had to do something. My friends are about to finish their studies, and one of them is now working despite dropping out of school. As for me, life stayed the same.

That’s when I reached out to an organization that gives different kinds of assistance to blind people. I had conversations with people who also have a visual impairment. I listened to their stories about how they travel and how college was like for them. The more I asked about them studying despite their condition, the more I became eager to enter mainstream education. And that’s when I learned about an IT school for the blind. They told me that it would be a huge help if I were to be trained there. I immediately went to ATRIEV.

I thought that ATRIEV was just an IT center for the blind, but it was more than that. Developing the trainees’ personalities and platform skills is also a part of their training. All the lessons I needed to learn, I got them with the help of ATRIEV. I became independent and can now travel alone. I also experienced being in a blind community because we, the trainees and even the trainers, are visually-impaired persons.

Most importantly, I discovered that my life can still be meaningful. I was able to help others, and I look forward to helping more people, just like how ATRIEV helped me to accept who I am now. With all honesty, I want to be a part of this community for the rest of my life because here, my heart is in the right place.

Turning Point of Being Blind

Photo of Yvette smiling and text.

by Yvette Amistad, ATRIEV Trainer since 2015

“Lord, Help me. This is not the life I’ve wanted and dreamt of.” I felt stuck and fed up of the heavy responsibilities of looking after my cousins. I cried so hard and prayed on bended knees. I hoped to be more productive and not just to stay inside the house. I wanted to be free and do things on my own.

And God answered my prayers.

I was called to attend a vocational training. I arrived with all my required documents but I got rejected because they learned that I have diabetes.

It felt terrible until one of the social workers said, ”there are other oppurtunities for you. Do you know that blind can use computers? You can go and be trained in ATRIEV.”

It was April of 2013 when I first step in ATRIEV. I felt excited, curious, yet scared because that was my first time to be in a blind community. Through the use of assistive technology, with the use of talking application, I learned how to operate my computer. Through platforms skills and personality development workshop, I gained my confidence. I was able to share my sentiments and emotions about my blindness. I met and mingled with other blind people and gained new friends. I experienced falling and walking in line by the sidewalk. I sat and sang with them while they were alternately playing musical instruments even if I’m not a singer. I joined class activities while sitting and eating happily with them.

Through ATRIEV, I learned many things, not just about technology but also about life. I’m now one with them as a part-time trainer and we go to communities to teach and inspire more blind people on how to use computers and android phones. I also became a general transcriptionist, converting audio files into written documents.

Now I’m more productive. This is what I wanted for my life. Because of ATRIEV, my dreams are closer to reality. I may not know where I am headed to but I know that, as long as I spread my wings, the winds will carry me to where I should be. And that is in ATRIEV.

Call for Enrollment: Writing for the Web Training for Persons with Disabilities

Image cover of writing for the web

Do you know that writing for the web is now abound in the online job market? And do you know that persons with disabilities can work as web content writers?

Finally, ATRIEV will conduct an exciting and comprehensive training entitled, “Writing for the Web.” With the proper guidance, participants can Discover their paths in writing. Additionally, this training can allow them to be full-time web content writers and can earn a decent income right in the comforts of their homes.

Trainees qualification include:

  • Blind, mobility and speech impaired;
  • At least 18 years old;
  • At least junior high school graduate;
  • Must be Filipino citizens;
  • Must pass the basic computer literacy of ATRIEV or other equivalent training;
  • Must take the ATRIEV diagnostic tests on computer literacy, and English grammar; and
  • Must have a laptop or computer or access to the said device.

When: January 13, 2019 to February 18, 2019, Monday to Saturday
Duration: 30 days
Time: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Where: ATRIEV Training Center, 3rd Floor, 1680 Corner E. Rodriguez Sr. Ave. and Los Angeles Street, Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines.

Limited sponsorship are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration Deadline will be on or before January 7, 2019.

What are you waiting for? If you’re interested, please don’t hesitate to contact us through the following numbers:
+632-725-4191, +632-411-1664 (landline numbers), +63977-705-9766; and +63923-616-4376 (mobile numbers). Please call between 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday to Friday only.

Manual for Teaching IT to the Blind will be Launched

Photo of Michelle Lagartera teaching trainers from UP

Twenty years ago, it was unthinkable for a blind person to use computers. Today, blind and visually impaired persons have thrived as contact center agents, virtual assistants, web content writers, programmers, web auditors and a host of other jobs with the help of assistive technology.

In the Philippines, a not-for-profit organization named Adaptive Technology for Rehabilitation, Integration and Empowerment of the Visually Impaired (ATRIEV) started it all in 1999. Going beyond the clichés of music and massage, a group of visually-impaired technology enthusiasts put up ATRIEV. ATRIEV is the first organization in the Philippines that focused on bringing technology to the blind through assistive programs and tools.

On November 22, 2018 at an Employers Forum entitled “We Can Do I.T. Using Information Technology To Expand Work Opportunities For Persons With Disabilities”, to be held at Microsoft Philippines, a digital literacy training manual will be launched. The manual is designed to help teachers and trainers in teaching I.T. to the blind and visually-impaired.

This Digital Literacy Training: A Manual for Teaching the visually-impaired is a compilation of ATRIEV’s accumulated experiences for the past 20 years. A team of competent visually-impaired trainers were assembled to write the various technical and soft skills parts of this manual. The manual covers the basic Microsoft productivity suite: Word, Excel, Access and PowerPoint. An extensive discussion on the use of the Internet, e-mail, social media and chat are included in the manual. Soft skills modules focusing on behavioral and communication skills are integrated in the technical part of the manual. From the step-by-step instruction to the evaluation rubric, all are customized to the needs and abilities of the visually-impaired learner.

Top caliber professors from Ateneo de Manila University, one of the Philippines’ premier educational institutions, helped the ATRIEV visually-impaired writers in developing and organizing their wealth of experience into a professional instructional manual.

Through this manual, ATRIEV hopes to encourage both sighted and sightless trainers to teach the blind the wonders of technology and help in bridging the digital divide.

Empowering Persons with Disabilities through IT

Image of Ms. Jaelene Cristel Mina smiling

For the past two decades, technology has tremendously changed the way we live our lives. We can do video chat with our loved ones overseas in real time. We can edit and share documents, presentations and games anywhere any time. We have our groceries, clothes, gadgets and even cabs right at our doorstep using online apps. We can earn dollars right in the comforts of our homes through online jobs. Technology has also provided persons with disabilities a tool to compete in the knowledge-based economy of today.
The CBM Livelihood Cluster composed of four NGOs working for and with persons with disabilities, in partnership with Microsoft Philippines, CBM Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University/Education Department and NORFIL Foundation will conduct an Employers Forum with the theme, “WE CAN DO I.T. Using Information Technology to Expand Work Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities” to be held on Thursday, 22 November 2018 at Microsoft Philippines, 8th Floor, 6750 Ayala Office Tower 6750 Ayala Avenue Makati.

Image of Ms. Beverly Bravo smiling

The forum’s Keynote message will be delivered by Mr. Nicki Agcaoili, Executive Director for Industry and External Affairs, Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP). The forum will showcase IT-related employment initiatives of private and public institutions for persons with disabilities. Companies hiring persons with disabilities and persons with disabilities employed in the IT industry will also share their success stories.
In the afternoon, a digital literacy training manual for teaching the blind and a website serving as an employment hub for persons with disabilities will be launched to be led by Mr. Rainer Guetler, Country Director, CBM Country Office Philippines.
The Digital Literacy Training Manual is a comprehensive step-by-step guide for teachers and trainers who want to introduce the use of Microsoft productivity tools in tandem with a screen reader software in teaching the visually impaired. The manual also includes modules on soft skills customized to the needs and abilities of the visually impaired.
The manual is written by visually impaired trainers themselves who have shared their years of experience in teaching digital literacy as well as soft skills to the visually impaired. It is a joint project of ATRIEV I.T. Center for the Blind, Microsoft and Ateneo de Manila University, Education Department.
Also to be launched is www.equals.org.ph, an on-line job and livelihood resource hub connecting Persons with Disabilities seeking employment or entrepreneurship in the Philippines managed by Foundation for These-Abled Persons, Inc. (FTI). The website is a place where employers can also post their announcement for job openings.
150 participants from various companies, persons with disability groups, government agencies and local government units are expected to join the forum to learn about best practices and new tools and resources for maximizing an untapped work force called persons with disabilities.

About the Organizers
ATRIEV, or Adaptive Technology for Rehabilitation, Integration and Empowerment of the Visually-Impaired, is a not-for-profit organization that runs a range of training programs on computer literacy, accessible technologies, transcription, and blog writing; language communication and public speaking; and life skills, such as work ethic, working in teams, and self-affirmation for the blind, their families and their communities.
De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB), particularly the office of Saint Brother Jaime Hilario Institute (SBJHI) offers free basic computer operations in certificate in computer application, behavioral training and bookkeeping to all persons with disabilities.
Foundation for TheseAbled Persons Inc. (FTI) is a non-profit organization that aims to enable emerging and existing organizations of persons with disabilities to become economically self-sufficient and to meaningfully participate through Capacity development, Bridge-Financing Assistance, Advocacy and Lobbying and Alliance Building.
Leonard Cheshire Disability Philippines Foundation Inc. (LCDPFI) is a national disability focused organization that promotes and protects the rights of PWDs in the Philippines. LCDPFI adapts a one stop shop model that provides livelihood support and employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.

Other Partners
Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.
Microsoft Philippines, the local subsidiary of Microsoft Corporation, has been constantly bringing innovation and making its technology available to Filipino businesses and individuals since 1995. As a committed and trusted partner in nation-building, Microsoft Philippines has made it its mission to fuel growth and healthy communities, as well as transform locally-based businesses and empower them to compete in the global economy.
Christoffel Blinden Mission (CBM) is an international development organization committed to improving the quality of life of people with disabilities in the poorest countries of the world. CBM addresses poverty as a cause and consequence of disability and works in partnership with local development organization to create an inclusive society for persons with disability.