For over 25 years ATRIEV have conducted countless trainings and workshops for the visually impaired and their communities. Staff and trainers go to different cities and provinces to make assistive technology more accessible. This has been ATRIEV’s routine ever since. Thinking of ways on how to empower the visually impaired through the use of technology.
Early this year, ATRIEV held its general assembly meeting with its staff and trainers to plan for this year. Capacitive trainings were also conducted in preparation of this productive year. The training team has their teaching assignments and everyone was thrilled. Until the unexpected happened.
On March 16, 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte issued Proclamation No. 929 which states that the island of Luzon would be under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until April 13. This means that business establishments that are not selling or manufacturing basic necessities are temporarily closed. Public transportation was also stopped.
Because of this, all of ATRIEV’s upcoming trainings were postponed indefinitely. Unfortunately, ECQ got extended. People are still adjusting to living, working, and studying at home. Companies, schools, and other institution were not prepared for this big change and little by little took steps to adapt to this unexpected turn of events.
The New Normal
ATRIEV has always been known to be adaptable as its name suggests with its dedication and innovation towards making the society more accessible through technology. The management had to think of a way to deliver the services of ATRIEV without losing its quality. This led to the exploration of different platforms where staff and trainers can work together in conducting trainings and workshops.
From April to May, staff and trainers explored different teleconferencing platforms, educational applications, and teaching strategies to prepare for the trainings. A technical team was assigned for the exploration of applications and platforms and trainers modified the existing learning materials to suit the online set-up. ATRIEV’s board members and consultants also helped by observing the teaching demonstration of trainers and giving valuable insights for the improvement of the trainings.
One of them is Erick Marco Ramos, one of ATRIEV’s graduates, later instructor, and now consultant. He introduced to the trainers the strategy called flip class which he and his colleagues use in their own class at Philippine Normal university, where he works as an instructor. The idea is to divide the lessons into chunks which include pre-class, in-class, and post-class activities. In this way, trainees and trainers can minimize the time where they have to be online and do their activities on their own pace.
After all these preparations ATRIEV was finally ready to face the new normal and so eATRIEV was launched. A virtual training center on TeamTalk, the chosen teleconferencing platform for ATRIEV’s trainings.
On May 28, 2020, ATRIEV’s Digital Business Basics Training started. Both trainers taught from their homes and trainees listen and do their activities within their homes as well. Challenges like the internet connection and the different learners were given challenges during the training but with the trainees’ feedback and willingness to learn, and the trainers’’ initiative to improve their teaching methods and learning materials, the training was considered a success. Trainings such as Digital Content Creation, Parent-Child Team Learning, Android Accessibility, Basic ICT for SPED, and more were conducted in the following months.
The organization’s goal is to make eATRIEV a constant part of ATRIEV’s trainings and workshops specially for those participants who cannot go to the center because of distance and financial issues. ATRIEV prioritizes accessibility more than anything else and what’s the better way to make it so than conducting virtual trainings.
Forward We Go
After more than six months of being in the different stages of community quarantine, the world is still adapting to the new normal. ATRIEV moves forward with its mission to initiate, implement and facilitate programs, projects, activities and services for the empowerment, rehabilitation, and inclusion of persons with visual impairment. With the new normal, ATRIEV will continue to strive in making this society more accessible through online learning.