Category Archives: Specialised Training

Internet society sri lanka includes persons with disabilities in the internet governance forum

Internet society sri lanka includes persons with disabilities in the internet governance forum


Internet Society of Sri Lanka (ISoC Sri Lanka) Chapter conducted the first ever Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Sri Lanka as a local event.

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was a forum where civil society, industry, the technical community and decision makers discussed key aspects of Internet governance issues on an equal footing.

The IGF Support Association which is the global body in organizing IGF worldwide requested Internet Society of Sri Lanka (ISocLK) to inaugurate an Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Sri Lanka. In response to this request, the ISocLK has decided to conduct the inaugural session of IGF Sri Lanka in 2016.

The President, Secretary and the Executive Committee of ISoC Sri Lanka chapter (ISocLK) invited Ms.ManiqueGunaratne of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Network on Disability to grace the occasion as one ofthe panelist of the Session 01- Next Billionth User andto be present at the Inauguration of IGF Sri Lanka 2016 which was held in March 2016 at Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH), Colombo 07. Ms. ManiqueGunaratne spoke on “Difficulties faced by persons with diverse disabilities when browsing the internet”.

The IGF inaugural session was to conduct dialogues on three main topics which would discuss the burning issues of the IT industry directly affecting the society at large, including the civil society.

The Chief Guest at the Internet Governance Forum was the Minister for Science and Technology. ICT Students with diverse disabilities (vision impaired, hearing impaired and physical disabilities) of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon ICT Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities got the opportunity to participate at this Forum.


Picture descriptions:

1 Audience.Audience.

2 Banner of the forum.i g f banner

3 Manique as a panelist at the conference.maniq as panelist

4 Manique and Sagarika (Secretary of the ISoC)maniq with sagarika

5 Manique making a presentation.manique making presentation

6 Manique and the Minister 2.manique with minister 2

7 Manique and the Minister.manique with minster

8 Welcoming the Chief Guest.welcoming the chief guest



Viber: 0094779571918

EFC ict training centre releases braille and large print pocket calendars for 2016

EFC ict training centre releases braille and large print pocket calendars for 2016

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 2016 was handed over to the Director General, EFC, Mr. Kanishka Weerasinghe by Ms. Manique Gunaratne, Manager, ICT Training Centre recently at the EFC.
“It is very important for vision impaired persons to expand their Braille-reading skills,” notes Ms. Gunaratne. She adds that 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,” she observes. 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 170 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).
Picture caption:presenting the braille calendar 2016
Ms. Manique Gunaratne handing over the first Braille calendar to the Director General, EFC, Mr. Kanishka Weerasinghe.

Manique Gunaratne
Face Book – Manique Gunaratne


United nations population fund together with efc ict training centre developes a mobile application on reproductive health for vision impaired and hearing impaired persons


UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is the lead UN agency that expands the possibilities for women and young people to lead healthy sexual and reproductive lives. They are on the ground improving lives in more than 140 countries, delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.

Since the establishment of UNFPA Sri Lanka in 1969, the agency has been working with the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure rights of men, women and young people to sexual and reproductive health information and services to live healthy lives.

The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon ICT Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities assists developers, researchers and all manufacturing assistive devices for persons with disabilities with knowledge, experiences, technical and accessibility support.

Sexual and reproductive health remains a big challenge for today’s young people in Sri Lanka. Most of these young people lack accurate information about reproductive health and contraception putting them at risk from unwanted pregnancies, STIs and HIV and AIDS.

People with disabilities are marginalized from society due to their inability to access sensitive information regarding their sexual and reproductive wellbeing easily and discreetly. Of the total population aged five years and over (18.6 million) in Sri Lanka, 1,617,924 persons were those with at least one of the six disability domains defined by the Census (disabilities in seeing, disabilities in hearing/speaking, disabilities in hands, disabilities in legs, other physical disabilities, intellectual disabilities). This represented 8.7 per cent of the total of whom 43 per cent were males and 57 per cent were females (DCS, 2014). Sri Lanka’s highest proportion of disability is related to vision impairment. In this category there were slightly more females than males As Sri Lanka’s population ages, it is also experiencing an increase in disabilities, especially among the adult and older population.

There are virtually no special facilities in schools/other education centers for people with disabilities children/adults in many parts of Sri Lanka. As a part of comprehensive reproductive health education programs in Sri Lanka, UNFPA wants to enables young people with disabilities to make informed decision about their reproductive health. Sexual and reproductive health and rights information accessibility creation for persons with disabilities using specially designed mobile application that caters to adolescents and youth who are unable to see and who  are unable to hear. The main goal of this mobile application is to improve the accessibility of knowledge and awareness of marginalized, adolescents with disabilities and youth in sexual and reproductive health and rights in Sri Lanka and beyond. The app runs on any iOS and Android phone, and it is free. In addition, it is available in all three languages (English, Sinhala and Tamil) while the content will be edited to suit the Sri Lankan sensitivities. This mobile application contains voice a guild for blind or visually impaired people that will help them get through mobile app content.

ABLE – App, the mobile application was launched in December 2015 at Golden Pond – TajSamudra, Colombo. ‘ABLE’ therefore, tries to create a space where person with disability, especially young people, can obtain the information they need to lead healthier and fuller lives through their personal mobile phone or tablets. The app is made of two sections; the first is titled ‘LEARN’, wherein users can learn about a range of topics, from sexuality and family planning to gender based violence and sexually transmitted diseases. The second is ‘FIND SUPPORT,’ which consists of a comprehensive catalogue of clinics in every city and district of Sri Lanka. Persons with disabilities have the same sexual and reproductive health and rights needs as other people. Yet they often face barriers to information and services. There are virtually no special facilities in schools/other education centers or education materials for people with disabilities children/adults especially for vision impairment in many parts of Sri Lanka /Globally.

So, as a part of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) comprehensive reproductive health education programs in Sri Lanka, they want to enable young people with disabilities to make informed decision about their reproductive health. Sexual and reproductive health and rights information accessibility creation for persons with disabilities using specially designed mobile application that caters to adolescents and youth who are unable to see. UNFPA started this ‘ABLE,’ app concept to address the fact that the person with disability individuals are marginalized from society and often they do not receive proper information about their sexual and reproductive well-being, putting them at risk of unwanted pregnancies and STDs.

People with disabilities are a part of society. UNFPA wants to work towards a future where they are independent and living in a better environment with dignity and justice.”

To download the app and receive updates, search for ‘ABLE UNFPA’ at your mobile store, available on Android and iOS phones.

At the launch of this mobile application for vision impaired and hearing impaired persons the welcome note was delivered by JeyanAbeywickrama, National Programme Analyst of UNFPA. Dr. NadikaChandraratne from Family Health Bureau spoke on Importance of sexual reproductive health. The Usage and the accessibility of the mobile application for persons with disabilities was done by ManiqueGunaratne from The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon ICT Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities. Arun Jentrick is the Co-ordinator of the Comprehensive and Reproductive Health Education of UNFPA.


Picture descriptions:

1 Launch of the mobile application.

application launch

2 EFC Vision impaired and hearing impaired ICT trainees.

e f c trainees group standing

3 EFC trainees at the launch.

e f c trainees

4 Manique making a speech.

manique speach

5 Group of persons with disabilities.

persons with disabilities at taj


The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon,

385 J3 Old Kotte Road,


Sri Lanka.


Cisco csr blog recognises the employers’ federation of Ceylon


The Cisco training done for persons with disabilities at The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon ICT Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities was recognized by the Cisco CSR blog. Please read the article on:



Co-ordinator – ASSET (Advancing Special Skills for Economic Transformation) Project



CISCO Women rock it


CISCO launched a new CISCO TV series “Women Rock IT” in November 2015. The Surprising Role Technology Help People and The Planet. This programme is to Rock in with Women who realize their passion helping people and the planet. This programme was held at the Vocational Training Authority. Rocking women in the Technology field were invited as resource persons for this event.     

AlaneCahalane, CEO of Veterinary Specialty Hospital Hong Kong spoke on how Technology played a pivotal role in reviving hopes that a lame bear will walk again.

AnuSridharan, Co-Founder and CEO of NextDrop in India spoke on how technology is being used to solve the impact of an unreliable water delivery service in India.
ManiqueGunaratne from The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon spoke on how technology has played a major role in life’s of persons with disabilities in Sri Lanka.

MaithreeMalwathegoda, Assistant General Manager Fusion spoke on how a woman would benefit technology in order to have a successful professional and family life in Sri Lanka.


Picture description:

1 Manique making the presentation.

making presentation single

2 Manique highlights the important points.

making presentation

3 Participants at the programme.



National Campaigner for Rights of Women with Disabilities – Raising Our Voices for Us





The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon represents Cisco academy conference and cisco awards 2015


Cisco Networking Academy has been partnering with education

Institutions, instructors and students for more than 15 years to build

And shape for future workforce.

This success of this program has been to Instructors of Cisco

Networking Academy. Academy Instructors are critical to create joint impact. The employers’ Federation of Ceylon ICT Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities is a CISCO Academy.

The Cisco Networking Academy Conference was held in November 2015 at Cisco office Colombo. Ms. ManiqueGunaratne participated at this conference as a CISCO International Trainer.

The conference was focused on three main topics.

First sharing best practices from the NetAcad Community for the

NetAcad Community. Second was about the NetAcad curriculum and roadmap updates and third, to be inspired by new projects and concepts to come in the Near future around the Internet of Everything.

Internet of Everything’ session was led by Rajiv Niles, Director

Digital Transformation and IOE Acceleration.

Technical breakout Sessions was led by AnanthRao, Technical

Manager APAC

The CISCO Awards 2015 was held at Cinnamon Grand Hotel. The Director General, Mr. KanishkaWeerasinghe and Ms. ManiqueGunaratne participated for the CISCO Awards 2015.


Picture descriptions:

1 Manique at the conference.

at conference

2 Manique at the awards ceremony.


3 Group photograph of the Instructors


(Honoured, Desha Bandu) Ms. H.K. ManiqueGunaratne


EFC’s ICT Training Centre launches globally recognized CISCO qualification


Since its inception in 2001, the Network on Disability of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) has taken strides, notably in the fields of ICT training, language and skills training and economic empowerment. The ICT Training Centre of the EFC which was launched in 2009 with the support of the International Labour Organization (ILO) is the nucleus of the Network on Disability.  Embracing the vision of ‘productive employment through social harmony’, its objective is to develop the employability skills of persons with diverse disabilities in the country.

Under the adept guidance of Manique Gunaratne, Head of the ICT Training Centre, it has benefited 159 persons with diverse disabilities to date including school leavers, job seekers, undergraduates and those employed from all corners of the island. Ms. Gunaratne was recruited as a role model to the Network on Disability in 2001, as the first employee with a disability. Losing her sight 15 years ago due to retinitispigmentosa for which no cure has still been found, Ms. Gunaratne’s commitment to the betterment of the visually impaired in the country is exemplary.

Trained both locally and internationally to teach, promote and develop ICT for persons with disabilities, Ms. Gunaratne has been nationally and internationally recognized. A Gold Medalist at the World Assembly for Women with Disabilities held in Seoul, Korea in 2011, she is also armed with several coveted national awards including the Keerthi Sri Lankabhimani Desha Bandu Award, Zonta Woman Achiever and Most Inspirational Woman on Special Skills of the Year – all of which was conferred on her last year and the Diriya Kantha Award in 2007.

The Training Centre fully equipped with more than 50 devices specially designed for persons with disabilities and other software, also collaborates with Curtin University of Technology in Australia and SLIIT (Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology) Malabe. The programs are also recognized by the Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission (TVEC) and within the EFC membership which consists of 620 companies.

The ICT Training Centre receiving the CISCO Academy status last year is the latest feather in its cap. “This 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,” said Ms. Gunaratne who now joins the international team of trainers to conduct CISCO courses. In April this year, EFC commenced conducting Cisco Computer Network Associate Courses (CCNA). “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, says the Head of EFC’s ICT Training Centre who cites three main objectives of introducing this globally recognized qualification to persons with disabilities. “The prime objective of it is to improve the computer knowledge and networking skills of them. Moreover, it aims to improve the employability of the trainees and create a group of trainers for future training needs.” The training team consists of Ms. Manique Gunaratne and Mr. Anuradha Jayakody, Senior Lecturer from SLIIT, Malabe.

For the CCNA Course, nine persons with disabilities have been selected. Among them are three vision impaired participants, three hearing impaired participants and three with physical disabilities. On 23rd October 2015 the Commercial Bank donated millions worth of CISCO equipment for the conduct of the courses. The handing over of equipments was held at The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon auditorium.

The following articles were published in the news papers.


Picture description:


Group photograph of Mr. Vajira Ellepola (EFC), Ms. Sonali De Silva (EFC), Ms. Manique Gunaratne (EFC), Ms. Priyanthi Perera (Commercial Bank), Mr. Dishan Fernando (Commercial Bank), Mr. Ashoka Baddage and Ms. Kalhari Kaluarachchi (CISCO).


Manique Gunaratne

Viber: 0094779571918


Seven vision impaired persons successfully completes Microsoft powerpoint


The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, ICT Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities up to date has trained 159 persons with disabilities on various courses in ICT skills. Microsoft PowerPoint is very important for a vision impaired person to make presentations for sighted audience. The course was conducted by Ms. ManiqueGunaratne. These trainees were also given training on Spoken English to develop their language skills. Ms. Vino Arumugam conducted the Spoken English training session. Up to date 31 vision impaired persons have successfully completed Microsoft PowerPoint. These trainees completed the course in September 2015. Mr. S. Pratheepan did a PowerPoint presentation at the workshop on “Community Means everyone” at Green Grass Hotel in Jaffna organized by EFC. It is really impressing to see the trainees utilizing the knowledge gained from the ICT Training Centre. Following are the seven vision impaired persons who successfully completed the course on Microsoft PowerPoint.

1 Mr. Chandana De Silva (Job seeker)

2 Mr. Pream Kumar (Job seeker)

3 Mr. JeewanLilaratne (Job seeker)

4 Mr. SayedAhamed (Chemistry Teacher at Genius Academy)

5 Mr. Sanjeewa Kumara (Job seeker)

6 Ms. SanaliSenanayake (Graduate from University of Colombo, Job seeker)

7 Mr. S. Pratheepan (Student, University of Jaffna)

We would greatly appreciate if you could assist us in finding employment for these persons. Please contact me on or


Picture description:

Group of trainees with Ms. ManiqueGunaratne at The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon



The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon,

385 J3 Old Kotte Road,


Sri Lanka.


EFC ICT trainees receive scholarships for university education


The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon awarded two scholarships for two vision impaired university students. Mr. AnushaDissanayake from University of Peradeniya and Ms. RasikaRatnayake from University of Colombo were selected for this scholarship. These two vision  impaired persons are following the ICT training at The Employers’ Federation of  Ceylon, ICT Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities under the leadership  of Ms. ManiqueGunaratne. The scholarships were sponsored by CIC Educational & Charitable Trust. A total sum of Rs. 36,000 was awarded to these two students. The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon wishes them all the success for their studies.


Picture descriptions:

1 Awarding the scholarship to Mr. AnushaDisanayake by Ms. ManiqueGunaratne

awarding the scholarship to anusha

2 Awarding the scholarship to Ms. RasikaRatnayake

awarding the scholarship to rasika

3 Group photo with Ms. ManiqueGunaratne, Mr. AnushaDissanayake and Ms. RasikaRatnayake

manique anusha and rasika


Executive Committee Member – Asian blind Union



Daisy (digital accessible information system) books for vision impaired persons


Digital Accessible Information System, or DAISY, is a means of creating digital talking books for people who wish to hear—and navigate—written material

Presented in an audible format; many such listeners have print disabilities including blindness, impaired vision, dyslexia or other issues.

Using DAISY, a talking book format is presented with enabled navigation within a sequential and hierarchical structure consisting of (marked-up) text synchronized

With audio.

DAISY 2 was a standard based on XHTML and SMIL

DAISY 3 is also based on XML and is standardized as ANSI/NISO Z39.86-2005 (R2012)

DAISY assists people who, for different reasons, have problems using regular printed media. DAISY books have the benefits of regular [[audiobooks]], but

They are superior because DAISY 2.02 provides up to six embedded “navigation levels” for content (i.e. other objects such as images, graphics, [[MathML]]

Etc.)and for displaying synchronized text to speech. DAISY Multimedia can be a talking book, computerized text or a synchronized presentation of text and


As a result, DAISY books allow the blind listener to navigate an encyclopedia; this is impossible using conventional audio recordings because they lack

Search and [[navigation features]] and they require linear listening

While reading a DAISY book, a reader can go to the next or previous page, chapter or sentence. DAISY is for everyone who needs accessible information and

For everyone who loves to read.

The DAISY Consortium has been selected by the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) as the official maintenance agency for the DAISY/NISO

Standard, officially, the ANSI/NISO Z39.86, Specifications for the Digital Talking Book, known as DAISY 3.

The DAISY Consortium was founded in 1996 and consists of a growing membership of organizations around the world committed to developing equitable access

To information for people who have a [[print disability]].

DAISY books can be heard on standalone DAISY players and computers using DAISY playback software

Mobile phones, and MP3 players – with limited navigation. DAISY books can be distributed on a CD/DVD, memory card or through the Internet.

A computerized text DAISY book can be read using refreshable Braille display or screen-reading software, printed as Braille book on paper, converted to

A talking book using synthesised voice or a human narration, and also printed on paper as large print book. In addition, it can be read as large print

Text on computer screen.

Software-based players include:

◾ GH PLAYER, a commercial DAISY player

◾ AMIS – Adaptive Multimedia Information System – an open-source self-voicing player for Windows that works with several screen readers; developed by the

DAISY Consortium

Emerson-reader, an open-source and cross-platform Epub and DAISY player

Dorina DAISY Reader (DDReader)

ButtercupReader, a web-based application for DAISY 3 books

CUCAT Olearia, an open-source DAISY reader for Mac OS X

Daisy Delight (DAISY 2.02, for Mac OS X and Unix-based systems)

DAISY Book Reader, GTK Daisy Talking Book reader application

Other relevant software:

Daisy Uppsala Archive Project, server-side system for managing DAISY (Digital Talking Books) files

Online Daisy Delivery Technology, open-source software to deliver DAISY books online

Hardware Players

There are also a wide range of hardware products available that can play DAISY content, usually in a portable form factor. Some of these devices are dedicated

To playback of books, while others focus on other functionality, such as PDA or mobile Internet access, and offer DAISY playback as either a feature of

The unit or as a software add-on.

In Sri Lanka the DAISY Lanka Foundation is committed to produce DAISY books for vision impaired persons and persons with print disabilities. The DAISY Lanka Foundation has undertaken many projects to fill the gap of lack of reading materials for especially in our local language (Sinhala). Ms. ManiqueGunaratne is the former Secretary of the DAISY Lanka Foundation and from 2014 she is an Executive Committee Member.



Face Book – ManiqueGunaratne