Assistive Technology for the Blind

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The Status of Assistive Technology for the Blind in the
University of the Philippines - Diliman

Group 3, Science and Technology for Society, WFU
University of the Philippines – Diliman, Quezon City 1101

Abstract
This study aims to identify the appropriate technologies for the blind and visually impaired students and to know the availability of these technologies in the University of the Philippines – Diliman. Numerous surveys and interviews were conducted to understand the different perspectives of students, instructors, and professors regarding the matter of blind people studying in the university and also to know the perspectives and experiences of blind people. Currently, there are 225 number of blind students enrolled. According to Yukari Ishida, a blind, non-regular student in the university, Japan has better service for the blind compared to the Philippines. She raised the need for assistive technologies like braille printers, booklets, and railings in the university.We suggest the following projects: ‘Blind Zone’, ‘Blind Spot’, and ‘See-RS’ as assistive technologies for the blind students.

1. Introduction
About one hundred individuals in the Philippines lose their sight every week: among that number are students. With the use of today’s different assistive technologies (available in the country), these blind students are enabled to acquire the same quality of education as normal-sighted students. In addition to that, there are schools in the Philippines which specialize to accommodate the blind. However, there are only a few known assistive technologies made available in the schools that students usually want to enter. Among those schools is the University of the Philippines. The University of the Philippines, being the prime state university, is known for promoting honor and excellence. Amidst its advocacy in shaping minds that shape the nation, it must also strive to break barriers to support any student to achieve all his/her academic endeavours. The university asserted itself by accepting totally blind UPCAT takers; but very rare in the history of UP would a blind student pass the entrance exam. Among the 23,385 students in the University of the Philippines-Diliman are 583 students who have disabilities: the highest percentage of those students comes from the visually impaired (225 out of 583).

DisabilityNumber of Students*
Emotional Disturbance29
Hearing Impairment57
Learning Disability18
Medical Condition/Unseen Disability113
Mobility Impairment34
Orthopedic Impairment97
Speech Impairment10
Visual Impairment225
Total583
Table 1. * Based from the University of the Philippines Office of the Registrar, Computer Registration System (2012)

In place of this, UP-Diliman believes that technology has removed many barriers to education and employment for visually-impaired individuals.Though there are technologies present, there are still questions of its availability and accessibility for the disabled people. This study aims to determine the following: (1) the problems encountered of blind students upon entering and studying in UP (2) the importance of assistive technology for blind students (3) the availability and accessibility of these technologies in our university.

2. Motivation of the Study
Blind students are equally entitled to the same kind or quality of education as normal-sighted students. Today, this is made possible by the different assistive technologies for the blind and some of these are already available in the Philippines. There are also specialized schools in the Philippines that are specifically for the blind. However, there are only a few known assistive technologies made available in schools that students usually want to enter. They may get into the school, but may also end up struggling with the system. This can be limiting to blind students that want the same basic education that anybody else can have. The usual communication and scenario inside a...
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