The Daily Financial Times newspaper gave publicity for persons with disabilities by publishing an article titled “E.F.C. staff member receives Desha Bandu award” in February 2014.
Executive Committee Member – Asian blind Union
Most vision impaired persons really like this course because it gives all vision impaired persons to touch and feel all parts of the computer. It gives the thearotical knowledge of the computers. A vision impaired person cannot see parts of the computer. Therefore, it is a great opportunity for them to visualize each part of a computer. The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon I.C.T. Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities conducts 9 courses in I.T. Computer Concepts is the course number 2. In May 2014 Ms. Manique Gunaratne conducted an I.C.T. course on Computer Concepts with a group of vision impaired persons. So far the Training Centre has trained 77 trainees on Computer Concepts. Up to date 157 vision impaired persons have been trained at The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon I.C.T. Training Centre.
By Manique Gunaratne
Executive Committee Member – Daisy Lanka Foundation
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”)
The Zonta woman of achievement awards ceremony is the flagship event of Colombo held every biennium since 1985. Zonta Club is committed to recognize and reward women who have achieved outstanding success in their respective fields and contributed towards national development. Zonta Club informed that they received nominations from across a wide range of disciplines and all regions of Sri Lanka. An independent panel of eminent judges selected the winners. The Zonta woman achiever of 2014 awards ceremony was held at Hotel Galadari. Attorney General, Mr. Palitha Fernando was the Chief Guest at this ceremony. In May 2014 Ms. Manique Gunaratne received the “Zonta Woman of Achievement 2014 award” in the field of disability.
In June 2014 the Sunday Times newspaper published an article titled “Peace and reconciliation shine on Zonta winners”. Article can be read in the following link.
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.
One of the most unpleasant things about being a person with a disability has to deal with negative attitudes around you.
And it’s sad, but true, that it’s not uncommon that the people who look down at you because you are in a wheelchair or use a white cane to get around,
Are the very people who are supposed to help you and look after your interests?
Hospitals – especially government outfits – are, unfortunately, one of them.
People with disabilities are very much interested in trying to find out about their latest medical results.
They toss and turn in their beds with worry.
The first thing they unexpectedly receive is “greeted by” a rather plump, sour-faced, rude and grumpy face.
But what we do not like is being forced as a person with a disability is to take on the personal problems of the others.
Sometimes most places turn out to be places where more is done to ruin the “feel good factor” for you than to help you.
I have personal experience of numerous accounts from my friends with disabilities of horrible encounters with people with non-disabilities when they have to turn to them for help.
These include the frontline, the desk staff, higher-up officers and professional counselors in the society.
People with disabilities are treated with little respect and sometimes, no respect at all.
They can’t get assistance from the car park; no one is there to help those open heavy doors (which shouldn’t be there) in the department’s office.
Few would offer them a smile. Waiting to be attended to can take forever. Asking more than a couple of questions would be frowned upon.
Many of them are spoken to condescendingly, whilst others are literally not spoken to at all!
Some people turn their attention to their able-bodied helpers instead, assuming the real clients are unable to speak – or have little intelligence to
I myself have come across frontline staff that was very impersonal with me, with their officious and detached tones.
Sometimes people dealing with us are so impersonal and snobbish that I was made to feel as if I should be “grateful” that they were even trying to help
Me in the first place.
As a trained person with a disability I, having served for over 15 years of well-known service in the disability field nationally and internationally, making a person feel
This way is the worst thing you can do to someone’s psyche when they come to you for assistance.
The question which really needs to be asked here is how well and properly trained people in the society are to help persons with disabilities.
Does each and every one of these able-bodied workers even realise that it is because of their clients that they have their jobs in the first place?
The good news, however, is all this now appears to be changing.
But whether this is happening only just in the urban the rural remains to be seen.
Several people with disabilities whom I have spoken to told me that now some people are more polite and genuinely caring towards them.
Many of us think these changes are coming about because of the advocacy and lobbying done in the disability field.
Department of Social Services organizes a social dialogue to discuss several areas of disability every month. This is a platform where persons with disabilities and persons with non-disabilities can take part to make justice for all. In March Ms. Manique Gunaratne did a presentation on “Enhancing ethics and etiquettes to promote social justice for children with special needs” at the Department of Social Services.
In June 2014 Sunday Times newspaper published an article titled “Night for Zonta Women”. Article can be read at the following link.
It is very important for vision impaired persons to be empowered and also to know their rights. People in the very grassroots level do not get any opportunity to be educated in their rights. UNCRPD clearly states the rights of persons with disabilities. The Sri Lanka Federation of the Visually Handicapped and Myright Sweden organized a workshop for 30 vision impaired persons in Kalutara, Galle, Matara and in Hambanthota districts. The participants were really enthusiastic to learn about the 50 articles of the UNCRPD. Practical training sessions made them understand more on the subject matter. Persons with disabilities are marginalized mainly due to lack of knowledge on their rights. Although persons with disabilities are subject to discrimination they hardly take legal action. The reason behind this is that they do not know the actions they should take as persons with disabilities. In June 2014 when this workshop was conducted at Dilena Hotel Ms. Manique Gunaratne was one of the resource persons.
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.