Forty visually impaired students have received individual electronic devices after The President’s Trust set its target to raise €100,000 to help them keep up with the national curriculum and their peers.
Electric video magnifiers, calculators with a big display, Braille equipment and tablets were among the apparatus donated by President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca during a ceremony held at San Anton Palace, Attard, this weekend.
“This is a day of celebration, which grew from a number of collaborations that came together during the National Readathon organised to encourage primary school children to read. They, in turn, raised money for their peers who were struggling to keep up because of visibility issues. Their example of social justice is heartening,” President Coleiro Preca said.
Through this campaign, last March 1,000 students raised €8,000 to purchase tailor-made devices for visually impaired students. However, much more was needed to help all these students.
The President’s Trust director Sarah Bondin said that emboldened by the success of this initiative, it got together with the National Literary Agency, the Foundation for Information Technology Accessibility, the Education Department, the NGO Advice, with Re/Max and Friends as the main sponsor, APS Bank and Vodafone Malta Foundation to raise €100,000 to help these students.
“We embarked on an exercise with teachers and FITA to establish the individual needs of each visually impaired student and to determine what technological devices would help them access the national curriculum,” Ms Bondin said.
These devices, which can be used at home and at school, will enable students to read books and handouts, access diagrams and maps, as well as stimulate and strengthen a youngster’s vision where necessary.
“We appreciate that no equipment will resolve all the hurdles these students encounter, but it will help facilitate their lives. Today 40 students were provided with their assisted-devices, and more will benefit in the coming months,” Ms Bondin said, “We are aware that the needs of these students can change over the years and we hope we will be able to continue helping them in the future.”
Set up in 2015 by President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, the Trust brings together renowned and experienced businessmen, academics and professionals to create collaborations that make a tangible impact on youngsters facing difficult situations.