White Cane Safety Day Celebration 2019

Image contains participants from the different organizations attended the event.

Where It All Started

For centuries around the world, cane, staff or stick was used to guide blind people in their travels. It was used to alert them of the obstacles in their paths. The use of white cane was claimed to have started in 1921 which was attributed to James Briggs, a Bristol photographer who lost his sight due to an accident. He used the cane for the pedestrians and vehicle users to know that he was blind. He chose to paint his cane white so it would be visible even at night. From then, white cane was used not just to aid persons with visual impairment but to serve as a sign for people to know their disability.

In the Philippines, the “White Cane Safety Day” was celebrated every first of August in accordance with RA 6759 of 1989, which declares that it is the policy of the state to promote and protect the physical, moral, and social wellbeing of all persons with visual impairment.

Since then, efforts have been made to celebrate the “White Cane Safety Day” by organizing programs and services for visually impaired and spread awareness to persons without disability.

The Advocacy Continues

For the “Sight Saving Month,” which is celebrated every August, the “White Cane Safety Day” served as an opening activity. Different programs like Braille writing contest was held.

The theme for the 30th White Cane Safety Day Celebration was “Puting Baston, Simbolo ng Kalayaan ng Taong May Kapansanan sa Paningin: Dapat Kilalanin, Igalang at Pagtibayin.” This theme emphasizes the role of the white cane as the symbol that someone is a person is blind or visually impaired.

As part of the grand celebration, an activity called “White Cane Walk” led by the Philippine Blind Union. The walkathon was joined by different organizations such as resources for the blind, Visuals, NOVEL, and other organizations. ATRIEV also joined the walkathon at least 25 representatives including the staff, trainers, and trainees.

The White Cane Walk started from Camp Aguinaldo Gate 2 Capinpin avenue and walk along the North bound lane of EDSA towards the People Power Monument where the program proper was held. Hundreds of visually impaired walked with their White Canes as a symbol of their freedom.

The program’s guest honor representing DepEd Sec. Briones was Undersecretary Tonisito Umali of the Events and Legal Affairs and Liason Office of the Department of Education. Philippine Blind Union gave away White Canes and braille with stylus. BENETECH-Bookshare, a non-profit organization which advocacy is Global Literacy and Inclusion gave away 3 Google Nexus Tablets through Philippine Representative Ms. Aggie Angeles.

Looking Forward

Looking back the journey for having an inclusive society for the visually impaired has gone a long way. The celebration of the White Cane Safety Day won’t end in the celebration itself. It will continue through the organizations who work hard to organize events that will spread awareness, through the visually impaired who show their talents and skills, and prove to everyone that disability will never be a hindrance to one’s success, and to people who strive to understand people with visual impairment and treat them as equals. With this, we are looking forward to a more accessible community for the visually impaired.

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.

Sitel Academy Plust ATRIEV 2018

Photo image of Ms. Mariel Valbuena in Sitel Philippines

In memories of one of the most hardworking, versatile and inspiring family member of ATRIEV, Ms. Mariel Valbuena.

To the family, please accept our heartfelt condolences for your loss. This might be a very tough time for you but we hope that you will find the comfort and love you seek through our prayers.

To Mariel, thank you for the laughter, optimism, inspiration and positive vibes that you have shared with us. We lost a jewel like you, but your memories will be kept in our hearts forever. You will be greatly missed and remembered by everyone.

Goodbye Mariel, and may your soul rest in peace.

English Language Communication Training Announcement!

Cover image of English Language Communication Training

Do you want to improve your language skills in English grammar and usage?

If so, you are invited to attend a 25-day English Language Communication Training. This course aims to prepare you for possible call center, web writing and transcription job opportunities.

When: August 20, 2019 to September 18, 2019; 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday to Saturday.

Where: ATRIEV Training Center, 2nd Floor, 1680 Corner E. Rodriguez Sr. Avenue and Los Angeles Street, Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines.

Registration Deadline: on or before August 14, 2019. Full tuition fee support is available for training applicants who will meet the sponsorship qualifications.

Target Participants:

  • Persons with visual, speech, and mobility impairment.
  • At least 18 years old.
  • At least high school graduate.
  • Must pass the basic computer literacy, Intro to Computer Science, Writing for the Web, or General Transcription Trainings of ATRIEV.
  • Must have a good track record during the training at ATRIEV; and
  • Must have a ready-to-work attitude.

For qualifications, requirements and other training details, please feel free to contact us at +632-411-1664, +632-725-4191, +63977-705-9766 and +63923-616-4376 and look for Ms. Marsh Balcueva. Please contact us from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday to Friday only.

“OrCam: Breakthrough Assistive Device Now In ATRIEV”

ATRIEV Board Remir Romualdo with representatives from OrCam, Aboitiz Foundation, St. Joseph Foundation and the 5 beneficiary institutions after the MOA signing.

True to its name and slogan of “Creating vision beyond sight” – the Adaptive Technology for Rehabilitation, Integration and Empowerment of the Visually Impaired (ATRIEV) recently signed on June 13 a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to become one of the six organizations as beneficiaries of the 25 OrCam MyEye 2.0 from Aboitiz Group’s Corporate Social Responsibility program.

OrCam MyEye 2.0 is the world’s most advanced wearable assistive technology device, that increases the independence of people who are blind, visually impaired, or have reading difficulties through its tiny, intuitive smart camera. This powerful pocket computer, the size of a lipstick case, easily attaches magnetically onto the eyeglasses, uses Artificial Intelligence, that instantly reads text, recognizes faces, identifies products, bank notes, tells you the time, date, and more, just by pointing your finger, tapping the button on the side, or doing gestures. This is the same AI technology installed in smart cars or the Autonomous Vehicles.

The MOA with Aboitiz Foundation Inc. and St. Joseph Foundation Inc. entrusted five out of the twenty-five OrCam units to ATRIEV for the next two years. And this happened barely four months before the organization’s celebration of its 25th founding anniversary.

“OrCam will be very helpful to us. This will allow our trainers who are either blind or still with light perception to use the breakthrough device in their different community-based deployments in far-flung areas. Our trainers doesn’t only handle visually impaired people, but also sighted PWD trainees in these communities,” said Antonio D. Llanes Jr., Executive Director of ATRIEV who signed the MOA.

ATRIEV graduates, who are gainfully employed, and even students doing research and are running for academic top honors in the secondary and tertiary levels may also qualify to borrow this hi-tech device at the office from Program Coordinator Lourdes B. Borgonia. They must comply with all the requirements of the organization, which was duly approved by Aboitiz Foundation. Each borrower is only given a maximum of three months to use the device, based from ATRIEV’s Electronic Device Loan Agreement form.

“For those who are interested in borrowing OrCam from ATRIEV, we will soon be offering training to our pool of trainers and graduates, on how to use and take care of this very expensive, but highly advanced assistive device,” the founding father of ATRIEV added.

The 25 OrCam MyEye 2.0 assistive device that are strictly on loan to the six institutions serving the visually impaired will remain as the property of Aboitiz Foundation Inc., the social arm of Aboitiz group.

“The Aboitiz Foundation is pioneering an incredible initiative with OrCam’s breakthrough artificial vision technology. Meeting the recipient organizations and the wonderful team from ATRIEV was a critical part of what made the launch event and training successful, and very special. Everyone was kind, professional and a pleasure to work with. We’re excited and proud to launch OrCam’s assistive technology in the Philippines,” said Jon Wolff, OrCam Technologies Regional Director for Australia and Asia who demonstrated on how to use the wearable hi-tech device.

Job Announcement

To all job-hunting ATRIEV graduates only.
Please email your updated resume to atrievorg@gmail.com with the subject: “candidate”, if:

  • you are looking for a full-time job
  • you’re willing to work in a mainstream office setting
  • you’re a college graduate

Note: This is not for home-based work or college undergrads/tech-voc grads.
Address your email to Carol Catacutan, Chief Of Operations. Deadline of the submission of updated resumes is June 24, 2019.
Only resumes submitted via email will be considered. Do not submit via facebook or messenger. Late submission will not be considered. No extension of deadline.

Education frees the people

Photo image of Mr. Peter Wallace.

Happy 80th Birthday to our beloved Mr. Peter L. Wallace, Chairman/President Emeritus of ATRIEV from 2002 to 2019. We thank you for being a blessing to ATRIEV and to the blind. Wishing you 80 more years of serving others!

The featured image was taken during ATRIEV’s Graduation Ceremonies in 2016 where Peter Wallace, ATRIEV Chairman/President Emeritus was our Guest Speaker.

Education frees the people (1)

My First Teaching Stint

Photo image of Mr. Edrian assisting one of his student in the class.

Note: Edrian delos Reyes is a graduate of ATRIEV’s Digital Literacy Training (DLT) in 2018 and went on to be part of ATRIEV’s Training of Trainers of Web Content Writing. At age 19, Edrian is ATRIEV’s youngest trainer. Read how Edrian describes his baptism of fire as an ATRIEV Assistant Trainer of the DLT course held from February to March 2019.

Many have said that you won’t get rich in the field of teaching. Well, so what? After teaching my very first batch of Digital Literacy Training (DLT) students, I feel like I’ve accomplished my mission on this world and I could die any minute now. Of course I don’t want that to happen yet. I just started this teaching career of mine, and it’s going to end already? Teaching is a very gratifying and fulfilling career, and I still want to teach more batches of students

With all honesty, being an ATRIEV trainer wasn’t really in my plans. I just did my part when I was a student myself. I listened to my trainers, made sure that I understood every lesson and finished the given tasks on time. When I had some free time, I gladly helped my co-trainees to cope with the lessons. I enthusiastically answered their questions and lead our group studies after class. I found myself enjoying assisting my peers and actually wanting more opportunities to lend someone a hand in achieving their dreams.

So, in February 2019, there I was, welcoming the 8th batch of DLT students as one of their trainers. Along with Rimar Joe Reynado and Gamalliel Kindot, we were honored to have students with full of potential and determination. We have students who want to make their performance in mainstream school better, students who are looking for a direction in life and students who want to further advance in their chosen careers. But teaching is not a very easy job. Little by little, we became stricter than we wanted to and even deliver some sermons. But despite all that, at the end of the training, we still heard the words, “Thank you mga Sir!”

I’d admit that being a teacher is very stressful but it pays off. It may not be through money, but who cares? Teaching is never about the money for me. It’s all about my students. I want them to pursue their dreams, become the best version of themselves and be successful in life. This is why I’m hoping that this is not yet the end of my teaching career. On the contrary, this is just the beginning.

Editor’s Note: The Digital Literacy Training (DLT) is the core training program of ATRIEV. It is conducted through the support of Microsoft YouthSpark Program and NORFIL Foundation as the strategic partner of Liliane Fonds.

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.