For more than three decades the civil war in Sri Lanka left behind thousands of persons with disabilities. East of Sri Lanka was also affected by this war. There are many rehabilitation programmes conducted by various organisations working for persons with disabilities for these people. Due to lack of education level, financial difficulties and lack of awareness among persons with disabilities they have a charity base approach. Long time ago it was the charity based approach which was adopted. Then it developed into medical based model, social based model and now it is the rights based model. Sometimes the attitudes among them are that they think that the society should provide them with all the necessities. It is very important to develop their job seeking skills. Capacity development to suit the job market is the most important. For a vision impaired person to work in a company it is very important to develop their skill which would assist them to work alongside with sighted persons. This is why I.T. skills play a major role. Handicap International and CAMID (Centre on Accessibility Monitoring and Information on Disability) organized a training for vision impaired persons at the CAMID Training Centre in Batticaloa. Ms. Manique Gunaratne conducted the training on I.T. skills for these vision impaired persons who have become blind due to the war. The trainees who were trained at this programme in May 2014 really appreciated knowledge given to them because in rural areas it is very difficult improve their knowledge on technology. The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon I.C.T. Training Centre has expanded their services for persons with disabilities to all districts in Sri Lanka.
By Manique Gunaratne (Honoured “Desha Bandu”)
I am Gayan Kosala living in Kirillawala, Kadawatha, I need to share thirty years of my life experiences as a blind person with all the people who are blind and not blind, because I believe that they will help you to make your lives a success.
I was born in 1985 as a second child to an ordinary family of four children. I entered to Kerawalapitiya Vidyaloka Maha Vidyalaya for my School education. I did my studies well as an ordinary child there. But I was lucky only for few years. Destiny crossed my life unexpectedly when I was getting ready for G.C.E O/L examination. My eye sight failed little by little. I had to face lot of difficulties as I couldn’t see things at a distance. I missed my studies . Nobody could understand my condition and I was neglected by others in the classroom. I did not want to join a special school because I had no any understanding about blindness and I thought it is a matter of shame. Due to this mental failure, I couldn’t get through the O/L examination successfully.
Then my only expectation was to gain my lost eye sight. Therefore, I met the famous local and foreign doctors around the country. But it was not a success. Finally, I met Dr. Amarathunga and he was able to make my mind strong enough to face my realistic condition. He directed me to Council for the Blind as he is having a vast knowledge about the blind.
There I understood really what life is. I got to know many people like me and the things that they can do. I strongly determined to win my life. I got the opportunity to follow the courses such as Bale, mobility and computer technology with the help of Council for the blind and the Federation of the Visually Handicapped. Mr. Sam was a great strength for me. During this time I joined computer courses conducted by Ms. Manique Gunaratne of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon. She directed me to complete the courses such as Microsoft Word, Computer Concepts, Windows Operations, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint and Use of Internet & E-mail successfully. Many times I was appreciated as her best student. Due to my dedication, I got my opportunity to teach computer technology to the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim blind students in Vavuniya. It is the most wonderful experience in my life.
When I look back of my life, I really feel a great happiness though I have come forward through a lot of difficulties and challenges. Today I’m in a good position by facing many challenges successfully. Now, I am spending a successful married life by getting married to a blind teacher of a government school, who was also an E.F.C. I.C.T. trainee. There are some people who helped me in this journey specially my Mother. Though their names are not mentioned, I think this is the best opportunity thank and bless them all.
It is a real challenge for vision impaired persons to serve in the I.T. field. Changing mind set is really important when dealing with i.T. for vision impaired persons. To be equally capable as a sighted person a vision impaired person must develop their I.T. skills. Some sighted people always wonder how a blind person could operate a computer. It is the same computer a sighted person use but a screen reading software is installed which converts text to speech. Microsoft Excel is used to do mathematical calculations. It is very important for vision impaired persons to be employed in different fields. Training in Microsoft Excel opens the pathway for them to work in the accounting field. The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon I.C.t. Training Centre trained a group of vision impaired persons in Microsoft Excel in June 2014. Up to date 43 trainees have been trained in Microsoft Excel by Ms. Manique Gunaratne at this training centre.
In March 2015 ms. Manique gunaratne started training on Microsoft PowerPoint with a new group of vision impaired persons at The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon I.C.T. Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities. Up to date E.f.C. have trained 37 vision impaired persons on Microsoft PowerPoint. These new eight trainees are:
1 Mr. Chandana De Silva (Job Seeker)
2 Mr. Pream Kumar (Job seeker)
3 Mr. Sayed Ahamed (Chemistry Teacher at Genius Acadamy)
4 Mr. Jeewan Lilaratne (Job seeker)
5 Mr. Sanjeewa Kumara (Job seeker)
6 Mr. M.W. Kulasiri (Job seeker)
7 Ms. Sanali Senanayake (Student, University of Colombo)
8 Sivapathasundaran Pratheepan (Student, University of Jaffna)
If you can provide an employment opportunity for any of the above job seekers please contact me.
The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon started training with a new group of vision impaired persons on Microsoft Word at The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, I.C.T. Training Centre, in February 2015. Up to date Ms. Manique Gunaratne of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon have trained 157 vision impaired persons on different courses on information technology. Following are the new batch of trainees.
1 Ms. Nadishani Jayathilake (Job seeker)
2 Mr. Thirukumaran Ramasamy (Job seeker)
3 Mr. Priyantha Kosala (Massarge Therapist at Thushare Talking Hands)
4 Mr. Gayashan Sumihira (Massarge Therapist at Thushare Talking Hands)
5 Mr. Vijakamara Thavaraja (Massarge Therapist at Thushare Talking Hands)
6 Mr. Dhananjaya Lakmal (University Student)
7 Mr. Tharindu Rajamanthri (Job seeker)
8 ms. Isuru Ayeshmi (Graduate from University of Sri Jayawardanapura)
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 March 2015 Sunday Times news paper 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:
The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, I.C.T. Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities was registered as a CISCO Academy in November 2014. It is another mile stone in the history of this I.C.T. Training Centre. The I.C.T. Training Centre conducts CISCO courses on Information Technology Essentials (I T E) a CCNA. The CISCO Sri Lanka had its CISCO Awards at Global Towers in November 2014. The E.F.C. I.C.T. Training Centre was recognized at the awards. Ms. Manique Gunaratne completed all CISCO examinations on Information Technology Essentials conducted by CISCO, Curtin University of Technology in Australia and S.L.I.I.T. (Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology). Now Ms. Manique Gunaratne joins the international team of Trainers to conduct CISCO courses. All academies and trainers were recognized at this awards ceremony.
The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, I.C.T. Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities is a well-equipped Training Centre with the latest technology for persons with disabilities. There are several courses conducted at this Training Centre. In November 2014 5 vision impaired persons completed Course no. 1 Microsoft Word. They are Tuan Cassim (Employed Graduate), Sumadika Fernando (Graduate from University of Sri Jayawardanapura), Sanjeewa Kumara (Job seeker), Ashan Nilame (Student, University of Colombo) and Harain Ramchand. Up to date 82 vision impaired trainees have successfully completed Course no. 1 Microsoft Word.
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.
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.