“The prevalence of visual impairment in South Africa is the highest of all disabilities, 97% of all partially sighted and blind people in the country are unemployed” - South African National Council for the Blind.
Prinshof School for the Visually Impaired is situated in Pretoria, South Africa. The student body consists primarily of learners with partial sightedness and learners with blindness. With visual impairment creating unique challenges to learning, the school is constantly looking for new ways to help and improve the lives of their students.
Karin Swart, Principal at Prinshof School, explains that “if we can make our learners independent, I think then we have successfully addressed our challenges. Therefore, we are always looking at new technology.” Talking more about the influence and use of technology within the school, Karin states that “technology plays a huge role - it’s basically their pen and paper.”
Through searching for new technology, the school discovered the tools and opportunities that Google for Education could offer. Using the accessibility features such as visual aids, text magnification, voice typing and Braille support, the teachers realised that the students could potentially overcome many barriers to learning.
After implementing Google for Education into the ways of working and looking back at how it has helped, Karin says: “After introducing Google for Education, we just decided there is no going back.”
Tito Gunda, a teacher at Prinshof, shares an example of how technology has helped his students: “When one textbook is converted into braille, it ends up being more than 10 textbooks. For learners to carry those textbooks around every day is a huge challenge. With Google for Education, everything is now in the drive making it easily accessible for everyone.”
Adding another example of how the technology has influenced ways of learning, Gift (a student at Prishof) says, “Google Talkback does everything that a sighted person’s eyes would do. The voice-to-text makes life easier.”
Reflecting on the equitable experience that Google for Education has created for all learners, Principal Karin talks about the effect it has had on the students at the school: “They are not experiencing ‘I’m on my own’ anymore. They are now saying, ‘I can talk to anyone, I can go on the internet. I can do research. The world is open for me.”