In Santiago

Ágora Project promotes work by visually impaired Chileans

Thanks to the Jaws software and training, currently over 300 blind people are working competitively in diverse industries under the same conditions as workers with sight.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010  

Every day Fabián González (40) gives computer training classes to adults at the Santa Lucía School. Word, Excel, email, and the Internet are programs that he teaches people who want to improve their standing in the job market and in that way gain access to better jobs and pay. However, this group of people is unlike others. The people learning to use computers are blind.

This is possible thanks to Jaws, a screen-reading software for vision-impaired people that translates all movements that users make on the PC into audio. This program allows people with visual disability to access all computer programs that currently exist.

In Chile this practical tool is used to improve the employability and productivity of the blind or visually impaired population - which totals 510,000 people according to the 2006 Casen survey - thorough training provided by the Ágora (Occupational Management Classrooms for Latin America) Project and the Centro Educacional Santa Lucía.

The 1,600-hour course earns you a certificate as an Advanced Computer Operator, a document that allows people to work in diverse industries like banks, remote technical assistance services, responding to consultations, and telephone debt collection, among others.

Fabián González, who is in charge of teaching the adults and is blind, highlights the importance of this too. “Currently computers are something essential for disabled people because they open up a world of possibilities that used to be hidden and almost inaccessible,” he says.

So far the Ágora Project has managed to insert 300 visually impaired people into the workforce since it was created in 2006 and they work under the same conditions as people with sight.

The country has previously developed initiatives so that Chile’s inhabitants can learn to value and respect differences from childhood, such as the disabled doll project, which was created to instill the importance of inclusion in young children.

Likewise, the Teletón is held every year. It is a solidary campaign led by the Chilean TV presenter Mario Kreutzberger, Don Francisco, and raises funds for different rehabilitation centers that have been implemented in Chile.

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