All posts by Manique


True social development cannot take place without the participation as well as empowerment of visually impaired women and youth. A pertinent observation is that the nature of their involvement in various organizations of and for the blind has greatly varied across time and space. In the past, many visually impaired women outside the Asian Blind Union region have demonstrated conclusively that, given the right opportunity, they can prove to be great assets not only to the organizations they belonged to, but to the entire community. These path-breaking group of ladies was, of course, spearheaded by the legendary figure, Helen Keller, with many others following in her footsteps. In the present century, the strand of such commendable leader ship has been continued in the World Blind Union, the apex international body of the blind. Visually impaired ladies from Sweden and Australia have held the office of the President of the Union with remarkable success. In Asian region, however, very few such instances of leadership from amongst visually impaired women have come to light.

We have hardly any instances of a visually impaired lady leading the Regional Union or even any of the national organizations in their respective countries. This is the hitherto known situation, despite the fact that women constitute (though no reliable statistical data is available) half or nearly half of the visually impaired population in Asian countries. What then is the factual position? What are the causative factors – these and related questions call for systematic investigation.

Similarly, young visually impaired men and women hold a reservoir of largely untapped energy and potential. Yes, many of them have excelled in various spheres in developed countries – an American conquering Mount Everest, a British ex-pilot making a solo flight London-Sydney-London, a few persons working with the armed forces for intelligence-gathering in Belgium, the Netherlands, etc. Of course, there are large numbers of young people engaged in routine economic activities, too, with many participating in programmes to support their visually impaired peers.

In Asian region as well many visually impaired young persons have made a mark for themselves in different fields of work. They function as advocates, entrepreneurs, IT professionals, school and college teachers, government officials, craftsmen, village workers, etc., besides carrying out a host of routine and traditional activities. Yet, these gainfully employed individuals are but a small minority leaving out multitudinous numbers languishing in deprivation and neglect.

Under the circumstances, it is no wonder that the situation about the participation of these young persons in organizations of and for the blind has remained mostly unknown, even unchartered. These organizations could aspire for balanced growth and sustained development only when they are tinged with vibrant youthful energy. What is the extent, if any, of their participation in such organizational activities – is a basic question with implications for future programming and advancement of our organizations?

It was in this background and context that the present workshop was taken up to explore the status of participation of visually impaired women and youth in organizations working with the blind in the Asian region.

The Asian Blind Union consists of three sub regions, namely South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. The Asian Blind Union did a research and the results showed that women in Asia are not actively engaged in organizational activities. In order to develop the leadership qualities of vision impaired men and women a programme was organized in Bahrain in December 2014 on “Policy Development with emphases on Asian Blind Union gender balance policy to increase the involvement of active visually impaired women in the region”. Vision impaired persons from South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East participated in the workshop. Ms. Manique gunaratne represented Sri Lanka at this workshop as an Executive Committee member of the Asian Blind Union.

Conference on policy development in Bahrain



The employers’ Federation of Ceylon I.C.t. Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities publishes Braille and large print pocket and desk calendars every year. These calendars are distributed among the E.F.C. trainees and other vision impaired persons in the country free of charge. These pocket calendars are very popular among the vision impaired community. Each year on the New Year day Ms. Manique gunaratne presents the first Braille calendar to the Director General, Mr. Ravi Peiris.

presenting the braille calendar 2015


6 vision impaired trainees completed Course no. 4 Microsoft Excel at The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon I.C.t. training Centre conducted by Ms. Manique Gunaratne in January 2015. Up to-date 35 vision impaired trainees have successfully completed Microsoft Excel. Out of these 6 trainees 2 are employed, 3 are unemployed and there was one University student. The successful trainees are Tuan Cassim, Sayed Ahamed, Chandana De Silva, Sanali Senanayake, Jeewan Lilaratne and Pream Kumar.DSC04242

I.T. FOR WOMEN By Manique Gunaratne

manique making a presentation at the cisco programme                                                                                 It is very important to inspire young women to select ICT as their career option and retain the whom who are already in the industry. It has become a major concern the number of female participant in the IT industry and specifically Cisco do consider on networking profession. With the current statistics it is considerably low and this has being directly impacted to the productivity of the organisation around the world due to in parity of the gender.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the IT sector will have nearly 1.4 million job openings by 2020. Yet over two-thirds of these jobs could go unfilled due to the insufficient pool of college graduates with computing-related degrees. Quite simply, if we don’t have enough people with ICT skills to manage and protect the computer systems that power our lives, we are in serious trouble. One third of the unemployment of the world is in Asia Pacific. From that one third as well female percentage is higher than male. Cisco believes as a social responsible company can raise the voice to do a different. To promote Information Technology for Women, CISCO Sri Lanka organized a webinar in February 2015 at the University of Colombo, College House. Ms. Manique Gunaratne was one of the panelists at the programme. She spoke on the “Importance of information technology for women”. The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon I.C.T. Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities conducts CISCO courses on Information Technology Essentials (I.T.E.) and CCNA for vision impaired persons, hearing impaired persons and persons with physical disabilities.

group of resource persons at the cisco


The IBrailler software assist vision impaired persons to type in Braille in an Ipad which will convert into sighted letters. The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon I.C.T. Training Centre headed by Ms. Manique Gunaratne together with the vision impaired trainees supported the developers by checking the accessibility by providing them with new ideas. In February 2015 Stanford U.S.A. published an article about the IBrailler software. It acknowledges the support given by the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon. Please read the article for more details about the IBrailler on: