A photograph showing a row of teachers of the blind wearing

"making wonders"

main content

In Malawi the availability of Braille books is severely limited, as are large print books for visually impaired learners. A blind or visually impaired student is therefore doubly disadvantaged in the education system, first because of their disability and second because the books that are required for their study are not available to them. This is illustrated by the fact that at the start of this project there were only six blind learners at University in Malawi, a country with a population of sixteen million and four percent of the population has a debilitating visual impairment.

The 'making wonders' project was named in recognition of a comment made by a member of staff at Montfort College, in Malawi, he said that "with the talking computers we will make wonders".

The aim of 'making wonders' is to use assistive technology to enhance the education of blind and low vision learners in Malawi. The focus is on using computers with appropriate software and additional hardware to enable a blind learners to produce work that can be marked by a sighted teacher and to enable resources to be produced, by specialist teachers, in large print and Braille for the children. Each school receives: at least two computers, an uninterruptable power supply for each computer, a Braille printer, two scanners and a laser printer. The software is designed to make a standard personal computer usable by a blind or low vision learner and includes: screen reader (JAWS), screen magnifier (ZoomText), scan and read OCR programme (Kurzweil) and a touch typing tutor.

Since its inception the project has grown to include 11 primary schools, 12 secondary schools, 6 Teacher Training Colleges and 3 Universities. One indicator of our success is that the number of blind learners at University in Malawi has grown from 6 to 21.

This is project is managed by Norman Wagstaffe - n.wagstaffe@strath.ac.uk

 A picture showing some children in Malawi carrying boxes on their heads - the boxes are computers and other equipment for the resource room that will be used by the blind children at their school.  A picture of a group of teachers who have been attending

The equipment for the project was selected and configured by Disability Services and Information Services, packed into a container and shipped to Malawi where it was finally delivered to the classroom by willing volunteers.

Each of the teachers of the blind receives three full weeks of training. This enable them to use and maintain the hardware and software supplied to them and to be able to teach a blind learner to use the equipment.

Related information

 Link to

 A map of Malawi showing the schools, colleges and Universities that are participating.