DEVELOPING SOFTWARE AND ASSISTIVE DEVICES FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

Ms. Manique Gunaratne of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon together with Dr. Anuradha Jayakody and the students of the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) is initiating to develop a out door navigation device for vision impaired persons.

 

Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:

Group photograph.

Manique Gunaratne

Blog: http://efcnetworkondisability.employers.lk/

 

LANKAN ISLE MAGAZINE GIVES PUBLICITY FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

Running a race like no other

National para athlete, Kumudu Priyanka believes that it is the sheer will power which wins the day more than the limbs…

By Randima Attygalle

An unusual metal object lying in Kumudu Priyanka’s home compound in Horabokka, Moneragala drew the attention of the young girl and her mother. Intrigued by it, the 16-year-old fiddled with the object knowing little that it was a hand grenade carelessly disposed in her garden by some unknown party. The hand grenade which blasted in her hands, robbed her of both her hands and vision in one eye. Her mother, R.M. Nandawathi too sustained severe injuries, though fate was more kind to her.

Once a ‘complete’ young girl with a knack for outdoor life in the prime of her youth, Kumudu was pulled into an abyss of darkness with no purpose in life any more on that fateful day on 25th May in 2005. Kumudu who was rushed to the Buttala Hospital by the villagers, was later transferred to the Badulla Hospital where she received treatment for nearly two months. “I thought my world had come to an end,” recollects Kumudu a star national-level athlete today. With a wealth of international exposure at para-athletic meets including Asian Games and Asia Pacific Games, Kumudu’s list of medals runs long. Making her employers at MAS Holdings and her country proud, Kumudu’s zest for life is astounding. “After my accident, I realized that what matters is not a person’s limbs but the mental courage to face life,” reflects Kumudu who navigates day-to-day chores with dexterity despite the loss of fingers. “What people like us need is not sympathy but empathy,” adds the sprint queen who applauds her organization and her mentors for being living embodiments of this.

Having lost her father at the age of three and the step- father later deserting her mother and her three siblings, Kumudu’s young life was full of trials and tribulations. The single parent her mother was, had to fend for her young family working on sugar cane plantations in the area. Today at 30, Kumudu is proud that she could finally look after her mother and her youngest sister, still schooling. “When I lost my hands, I was feeling guilty as a dependent. My mother’s life was already a hard one and I felt wretched to be an added burden.” Applauding her mother for being a ‘liberal woman’ in a social setting where children with disabilities are often hidden from the public eye, Kumudu credits her for opening up avenues for her to return to the mainstream. She is equally thankful to her fellow villagers and the Chief Prelate of her village temple who stood by her during her darkest hour.

Coming under the wings of the late Premadasa Dissanayake who steered Rehab Lanka was a turning point in Kumudu’s life. Having been introduced to the visionary leader, a wheel-chair user himself through the AG Office in Moneragala, Kumudu never looked back. “I’m what I am today because of the guidance I received from my mentor whose is no more,” says emotionally-charged Kumudu. The association with her peers at Rehab Lanka with diverse disabilities empowered Kumudu to ‘find herself’ once more and become independent. Today she handles her phone, cutlery and the computer like any other counterpart with no disability. She catches a bus home to Moneragala once a month. The perceptions of society towards people with disabilities have largely progressed here at home, says Kumudu, adding that still there is so much space to improve. She is quick to add with a smile, “although there are still those who keep on staring at me in disbelief at public places, on the bus etc, more people have been kind to me and supportive.”

The athlete in Kumudu lying dormant all these years was ignited when she participated in Para National Athletic Meet in 2006. Clinching gold medals in 100m and 200m running and long jump, Kumudu went on to hone her faculties under several inspiring coaches. Today she aspires to represent the country once again at 2020 Para Olympics. Having acquired computer skills a few years after her accident, Kumudu is productively employed at MAS Intimates Unichela Panadura today as a data entry operator. Shakthi Ranatunga, Group Director Human Resource at MAS states, “sport is a creator of opportunities for talented associates at MAS. It also opens up mediums of excellence for our 400 colleagues with disabilities. We strive to create a workplace where they are recognized for their abilities and not disabilities. It is not only about offering a job, but creating the right conditions – internal and external built environment, physical and emotional support mechanism, where dignity is paramount and they get the opportunities to pursue their lives’ passion. In our organisation, everyone gets an opportunity to become a hero.”

Grateful to all the support she receives from her organization, Kumudu urges more corporates to take a cue from it. “I have never been discriminated in my working environment. On the contrary, I receive the fullest support not only in my work but also in my athletic pursuits,” says Kumudu who represents the MAS athletic team as well.

With her cheerful countenance, Kumudu surmises: “I was born a complete human being and I never thought I’d lose a part of me. Life is unpredictable but whatever befalls, we need to brave it just as I have.”

Source: Lankan Isle (Jan-March, 2019 edition)

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Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:

1 Kumudu in action

Manique Gunaratne

Skype – manique.g

ENGLISH LANGUAGE COMMUNICATION SKILLS FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

More people around the world than ever before are studying and learning English because it has become the international language of education and business. In Sri Lanka the knowledge of English Language Communication Skills among persons with disabilities are very low. Therefore, it is very difficult to place persons with disabilities in employment in the private sector. Our aim is to promote learning and support education and professional development for people with diverse disabilities. We work hard to help learners pursue their dreams of higher education or getting a good job in English-speaking environments. 7 persons with diverse disabilities (vision impaired, partially sighted, hearing impaired, speech difficulty) successfully completed a course of study in English Language Communication Skills at The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, Specialised Training & Disability Resource Centre in March 2019. The trainings were conducted by a team from the British Welfare Group, Ms. Manique Gunaratne and Ms. Ayasana Gunasekera with the support of the #InternationalLabourOrganisationSriLanka. The trainees were trained in conversational ability utilizing the four skills — listening, speaking, reading and writing according to an international syllabus. Up to date 14 persons with diverse disabilities have successfully completed English Language Communication Skills at the training centre.

 

Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:

1 Group of trainees with Manique and Ayasana.

2 Group of trainees with Manique

3 Group photograph.

Manique Gunaratne

E-mail – maniqueg@empfed.lk     manique.g@gmail.com

BUDDHA DESHANA IN SIGN LANGUAGE

Jinasena Training & Rehabilitation Trust together with The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon distributed DVD’s of teachings of Lord Buddha in sign language to hearing impaired persons in March 2019 at The EFC. In Sri Lanka hearing impaired persons have less opportunities to get information in Buddhism due to communication barriers. This is a great opportunity for hearing impaired persons.

Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:

1 Manique handing over the CDs to Chandima.

2 Ayasana handing over the CDs to Ganga.

3 Ayasana handing over the CDs to Gihan.

4 Manique handing over the CDs to Mahesh.

5 Manique handing over the CDs to Mangalika.

Manique Gunaratne

Fax – 0094112867946

SRI LANKA FEDERATION OF UNIVERSITY WOMEN INCLUDES WOMEN WITH DISABILITIES ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

The Sri Lanka Federation of University Women celebrated International Women’s Day in March 2019 with the theme ‘Inspiring Women’.  As a person who has inspired so many, the SLFUW invited Ms. Manique Gunaratne of The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon as the guest speaker. Everyone was so happy to hear a woman with a disability speaking to enrich the lives of both persons with disabilities and persons with non-disabilities.

Picture descriptions for vision impaired persons:

1 Group photograph of pannalists and executive committee of Sri Lanka Federation of University Women.

2 Rukshan and Manique.

3 Manique speaking.

4 Manique making a presentation.

5 Pannel with participants.

Manique Gunaratne

Mobile – 0094779571918

SRI LANKA FOUNDATION OF THE REHABILITATION OF THE DISABLED

Sri Lanka Foundation for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled (SLFRD) was founded on 27th July 1988 by a group of people with disabilities. The late Mr. Premadasa Dissanayake invited the participants and explained why person with disabilities should organize themselves in order to realize their rights. The main objective of SLFRD was to make the society aware of capabilities of people with disabilities and their rights and the need to support them to live independently and in dignity. The membership consists of all categories of disabilities. SLFRD is registered under the Ministry of Social Empowerment and Services as a Disabled People’s Organization.

On 22nd November1990 SLFRD took over Rehab Lanka at No. 5A, Khettarama Temple Road, Maligawatta started by Dr. Rienzi Peiris of Rotary Club of Colombo Metropolitan to provide vocational training to amputees discharged from hospitals. The takeover was negotiated by the then President Mr. Premadasa Dissanayake and Vice President Mr. Cyril Siriwardane supported by Mrs Swarna Ferdinand, Honorary Secretary of Colombo Friend-in-Need Society.

After taking over Rehab Lanka SLFRD started a workshop to provide employment to persons with disabilities. Initially five persons with disabilities who have completed vocational training were recruited. Items manufactured mainly were assistive devices needed by persons with disabilities. such as wheelchairs, tricycles, crutches etc. Other items such as hospital beds, trolleys, bedside cupboards, tables, chairs etc. were made.

At present SLFRD is engaged in the following:

Manufacturing of assistive devices for persons with disabilities.

Encourage young persons with disabilities to engage in sports through “Rehab Lanka Sports Club”.

Participating in diverse forums representing persons with disabilities and speaking for their rights.

 

The assistive devices produced are:

  1. Different types of Wheelchairs manufactured are given below. Different sizes are made to suit the user. All wheelchairs are sold with a cushion.
  2. Active wheelchairs – These are suitable for use in rural areas with rough terrain and sandy soil.
  3. Folding wheelchairs with removable armrests and adjustable footrests.
  4. Children’s wheelchairs with front table.
  5. Kiddie’s wheelchairs with removable armrests and adjustable footrests.
  6. Sports wheelchairs for basketball and wheelchair tennis.
  7. Supportive seating wheelchairs for children with cerebral palsy and similar disabilities.
  8. Commode wheelchairs.

 

  1. Easy Go Tricycles – These tricycles are easy, safe and comfortable to ride.
  2. Elbow and Axillary crutches made of aluminium or steel tubes.
  3. Walking Frames
  4. Standing Frames

 

Items such as metal racks, tables, chairs, beds cloth racks etc. are also manufactured according to orders received.

 

By purchasing items from SLFRD you will be helping people with disabilities working at SLFRD to live in dignity without depending on others.

 

The SLFRD had the Annual General Meeting in February 2019 and a new executive committee was selected.

 

Picture description for vision impaired persons:

Group photograph of the executive committee

Manique Gunaratne

Vice President – Sri Lanka Foundation of the Rehabilitation of the Disabled

BRAILLE PRINTING

The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon Braille Printing Unit prints Braille documents. In March 2019 Braille books were handed over to the sponsore to be handed over to a library so that vision impaired persons in all corners of Sri Lanka can make use of it. If anyone wish to make materials in accessible formats please contact us.

Picture description for vision impaired persons:

Braille printing.

Manique Gunaratne

The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon,

385 J3 Old Kotte Road,

Rajagiriya,

Sri Lanka.