Category Archives: Information and Communication Technology for Persons with Disabilities


It is the time of the year when many look for calendars for the newly dawned year, either for personal use or as a gift. Visually impaired and low-vision people can now find a readable calendar of their own. The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon’s (EFC) ICT Training Centre offers free pocket Braille and large print calendars every year. The first Braille and large print calendar for 2018 was handed over to the Director General, EFC, Mr. Kanishka Weerasinghe by Ms. Manique Gunaratne.

“It is very important for vision impaired persons to expand their Braille-reading skills. The only method to evaluate the literacy rate of vision impaired persons is Braille.  “Literacy is so important. There are talking devices, but there is nothing quite like the written word. It is so important for blind children and adults to learn to read, just as it is important for sighted people to read. EFC Braille calendars are an absolute must for any blind adult or child on the go. They are fast, easy to use, efficient and a real necessity today.

The EFC ICT Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities removes barriers, creates solutions and expands possibilities, so that the visually-impaired can achieve their full potential.

The Braille calendars are distributed free among EFC ICT trainees and other vision impaired persons in all corners of the country. EFC ICT Training Centre provides many services for persons with disabilities. Developing technologies and ICT skills are the key roles of the ICT Training Centre. Todate it has trained about 190 persons with disabilities on ICT skills. There are several courses conducted at this training centre. Each year the training centre is upgraded with equipment and with modern courses to suit the contemporary job market. The trainees are awarded well recognized certificates and the courses conducted are recognized by the Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission where the certificates carry the TVEC registration number.

The ICT courses are not limited to Colombo. The training centre extended its services to the North in 2011. Library facilities with accessible formats are available at this Centre which caters to all persons in the disability field. Special assistive devices for persons with disabilities make this Centre more popular among persons with disabilities. These assistive devices are unique and they are available only at EFC.

The ICT training is now a Cisco academy. It also conducts international courses in collaboration with Cisco, Curtin University of Technology Australia and Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT).

The Braille printing unit of the  ICT Training Centre is doing huge task in printing Braille documents. If anyone wishes to print Braille documents please contact Ms. Manique Gunaratne.


Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:

Presenting the first Braille calendar for 2018.


The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, Specialised Training & Disability Resource Centre supported University of Kelaniya to train under-graduates with disabilities to be trained on ICT skills so that they can be equally capable as persons with not yet with a disability.

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Manique Gunaratne

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The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon ICT Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities provides scholarships for under-graduates with disabilities for their University education with the support of the CIC Educational & Charitable Trust. This year two vision impaired under-graduates from University of Kelaniya and University of Peradeniya received scholarships at the EFC ICT Graduation held at the Sri Lanka Foundation in November 2017.


Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:

1 Mr. Chamod Ruwanga from University of Kelaniya receiving the scholarship.

2 Ms. Rasika Rathnayake from University of Peradeniya receiving the scholarship.


Manique Gunaratne

Vice Chair Person – South Asian Disability Forum



The ICT Training Centre receiving the CISCO Academy status in 2014 is a milestone of the ICT Training Centre as it is the only training centre in the country which trains people with diverse disabilities in CISCO courses. CISCO is a globally recognized IT qualification.” Specialists reveal that persons with CISCO qualifications are often ranked in the top three highest paid slots. CISCO’s own research indicates that certified professionals often earn as much as 10% more than peers without CISCO credentials working in similar routing and networking jobs.

The demand for IT workers with CISCO certifications often outstrips the supply.

Manique Gunaratne is the only person with a disability in Sri Lanka to receive the qualification both in Cisco Information Technology Essentials (ITE) and Cisco CCNA (Cisco Computer Network Associate). Along with the certificates she received a special recommendation letter from Cisco International. Now she will join the international team of Cisco trainers.


The Northern Ireland Union of Supported Employment (NIUSE), European Union of Supported Employment and University of Kelaniya  organized a series of training workshops and associated practitioner observation study visits in Belfast, Northern Ireland, related to Supported Employment for individuals at disadvantage in accessing employment due to disability.

Northern Ireland Union of Supported Employment is a non-governmental organisation promoting employment and vocational training opportunities for people with disabilities and people from other disadvantaged situations through the Supported Employment model. The Supported Employment model assists people with significant disabilities to access and stay in employment in the open labour market by providing individualised and on-going support. Northern Ireland Union of Supported Employment is a membership based organisation representing persons with diverse disabilities organisations (physical, learning, mental health, sensory and hidden disabilities) from across Northern Ireland.

Along with attending the training workshops and associated practitioner observation study visits, and also to organise meetings and visits to a range of Supported Employment organisations as well as meeting with relevant Government Departments and agencies (i.e. Department for Communities, Department for Health, Social Services and Public Safety). NIUSE has also links with third level academic institutions, such as Queens University and the University of Ulster across a number of faculties if our organization would wish to form links.

In addition, NIUSE currently holds the Presidency of the European Union of Supported Employment through Margaret Haddock who is the Chair of NIUSE.

9 women qualified as Supported Employment Offices as the first 9 Supported Employment Officers in Sri Lanka. Manique Gunaratne is the only woman with a disability to be qualified as a Supported Employment Officer from the Northern Ireland Union of Supported Employment.


Manique Gunaratne received all the above certificates at the EFC ICT Graduation held at the Sri Lanka Foundation in November 2017. The Chief Guest Ms. Simring Singh, Country Director, International Labour Organisation awarded the certificates to Ms.  Manique Gunaratne of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon.


Picture description for vision impaired persons:

Manique receiving the certificates.


Manique Gunaratne

Executive Committee Member for Advocacy and Lobbying for Rights of Persons with Disabilities – Sri Lanka Foundation for Rehabilitation of the Disabled

Finger reader

FingerReader aims to create an assistive device that sustainably change how the visually impaired community can independently access information on the go. Accessing visual information in a mobile context is a major challenge for the blind.

Designed and developed by the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), the FingerReader empowers the communities who would otherwise have no access to assistive technology because they were either too expensive or did not fulfill the user expectations.

Engagements with blind people reveal numerous difficulties with existing state-of-the-art technologies including problems with accuracy, mobility, efficiency, cost, and more importantly social exclusion. The design of FingerReader address these challenges as it is a finger-worn accessory that allows users to simply point at products, restaurant menus, signs etc. to perform a recognition and interpretation task on what the FingerReader sees and hear the result spoken to him or her through a headset.

Dialog joined hands with SUTD to deploy FingerReader devices in Sri Lanka to support Sri Lanka’s visually impaired community.

The expert team members are Prof. Suranga Nanayakkara, Mr. Roger Boldu and Mr. Haimo Zhang.

The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon together with Dialog and Singapore University of Technology & Design launched the Finger Reader mobile app at the EFC ICT Graduation held at the Sri Lanka Foundation in November 2017.


Picture description for vision impaired persons:

Launch of the mobile app.


Manique Gunaratne

Council Member – Cisco Networking Academy Council



Schmoozer is a mobile application that supports vision impaired individuals to read documents, which contains images, graphs and equations. The mobile application allows vision impaired individuals to auto capture and upload images of a printed document to the server. Then provides voice output to them within 2 – 3 minutes. The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon together with the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) launched the Schmoozer mobile app at the EFC ICT Graduation held at the Sri Lanka Foundation in November 2017. The expert team members are Mr. Anuradha Jayakody, Ms. Narmada Gamage, Mr. Wenura Jayadewa, Mr. Ashan Lokuge, Ms. Bhagya Senanayake and Ms. Manique Gunaratne.


Picture description for vision impaired persons:

Launch of the Schmoozer mobile app.


Manique Gunaratne

Sub Committee Member of Policy Development Unit of Prime Minister’s Office on Vocational, Technical Training and Employment Focusing on Persons with Disabilities


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Manique Gunaratne

Resource Person – Beyond the Reach Project of Internet Society Sri Lanka Chapter