Enabling Education Network Desires Feedback for Website Redesign

Posted on 5 February 2009. Filed under: Announcements, Call for Comments or Information, Children, Cross-Disability, Education, Inclusion, Opportunities | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

[Note to We Can Do readers: For years, people in the field of disability inclusive education have turned to the Enabling Education Network (EENET) for information, resources, and opportunities for debate. EENET has disseminated the following announcement, and is seeking responses by the end of February 2009.]

This year EENET is going to redesign its website. A very kind volunteer in EENET Asia has offered to do all the work for free. So, now we need to get some feedback from people who use the website, so that we can make sure we create a new website that is more useful and user-friendly.

The attached questions may help you give feedback. But please do tell us anything you want about the website — what is good, what is bad and what you would like to see on the website in future.

Please share this request for feedback with anyone else you know who uses the EENET website.

Thanks in advance for any feedback you can give.
Best wishes

EENET website redesign

In 2009 EENET’s website – www.eenet.org.uk –– is going to be redesigned and relaunched. This will be the first significant redesign since the website was created in 1997. So it’s important that we get it right!

The detailed evaluation of EENET in 2006 told us that there are various aspects of the website that are not user-friendly, and users sometimes find it difficult to locate the information they want from the huge selection available.

We now want to top up the evaluation results with some more recent feedback on what you like and don’t like, and what you want to see on the new website.

The following questions are of particular interest to us, but please feel free to send comments about other aspects of the website as well.

Thank you in advance for your help.

1) Organising documents
There are two main options for how we can organise the content on the website:

(a) we could list documents according to type of document (e.g. training manuals, short articles, long reports, etc). Under this option you would see a list of, for instance, all the training manuals available covering all aspects of inclusive education

(b) we could list documents according to inclusive education themes (e.g. gender, working children, disability, refugees, emergencies, etc). With this option you would see all the information available under that theme (you would see a list of all articles, reports, manuals, posters, links to other websites, etc on the theme of, for instance, ‘inclusive education and refugees’).

Which option would you prefer and why?
We could design the site so that both options are available, but before we take this more complicated route, we first want to know if one option is a lot more popular than the other!

2) Search facility
The current search facility within the EENET website is using outdated technology and isn’t very helpful. To help us improve the search facility, please tell us how you search for items on the EENET website. Do you mostly search for items according to:

  • subject area
  • a known document title
  • country
  • name of an organisation/NGO
  • a known author name
  • other (please specify)

3) Which website section(s) do you find most useful? Why?

4) Which website section(s) do you find least useful? Why?

5) Is there anything about the website that you find particularly confusing or frustrating? If so, how could we overcome this problem?

6) Documents in other languages
We currently have a separate section where users can go directly to a list of documents in other languages (it contains a random selection, as we rely on volunteers to do translations). Should we keep this separate section http://www.eenet.org.uk/other_langs/documents.shtml? Or should we remove this section and simply list any translations next to their English versions?

7) Word, PDF or html
Which format do you prefer / find most convenient for accessing and reading documents? Please explain why you prefer this format.

  • Html pages that you read online
  • PDF file downloads
  • Word file downloads

8) Please tell us about anything else that you think will help us make an EENET website that meets your needs!

If you are not already familiar with it, please explore the EENET website at www.eenet.org.uk. Then, send your responses to the above questions to EENET at info@eenet.org.uk by the end of February 2009.

I received this announcement via EENET’s Eastern Africa email discussion group, which focuses on discussion related to disability inclusion education in Eastern Africa.

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JOB POST: Project Manager Inclusive Education Bac Kan province, Vietnam, Handicap International

Posted on 21 November 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Children, Cross-Disability, East Asia Pacific Region, Education, Inclusion, Jobs & Internships, Opportunities | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Handicap International IS LOOKING FOR Project Manager Inclusive Education in Bac Kan province, Vietnam.
Posting date: 1st February 2009 Length of the assignment : 2 years
Closing date for application : 21/12/2008 (December 21, 2008)

Handicap International is an international organisation specialised in the field of disability. Non-governmental, non-religious, non-political and non-profit-making, it works alongside people with disabilities, whatever the context, in response to humanitarian crises and the effects of extreme poverty. Handicap International implements programmes of assistance to persons and local organisations, inclusion programmes and programmes focusing on the fight against the main causes of disability. It runs projects in almost 60 countries, with the support of a network of 8 national associations ( Germany, Belgium, Canada, United-States, Luxembourg, United Kingdom and Switzerland)

The organisation employs almost 3300 people worldwide, 330 of whom work in France and in its European and North American sections.

For more details on the association: http://www.handicap-international.fr/en/s/index.html


Unified from 1975 after 40 years of conflict, Vietnam entered into the Doi Moi process on economy and politics in the mid 80’s to open the country to liberalism. With economic growth rate of more than 8% in 2007, the country is now becoming one of the new Asian Dragons. This development creates a gap between rich areas mainly located in the lowlands and urban areas and remote mountainous regions where people remain poor, despite a 50% fall in poverty over the last 10 years.

The country is very stable with a government ruled by one legal political party. All institutional levels have People Committee representatives from the State to the villages. With around 85 millions inhabitants, Vietnam is highly populated for a territory of 331,000 km2. 54 ethnic groups co-exist in this area; the Kinh (Vietnamese themselves) constitute a majority of 85% and are dispersed nationwide. All other population groups are ethnic minorities mainly located in mountainous provinces.


The objective aims to implement the Inclusive Education National Plan in Bac Kan province. The project has been designed and submitted as a consortium between Handicap international France and Save the Children Sweden. The project will be implementing with others external partners specialized or working in education domain.

Challenges and goals:

The Project Manager will ensure the effective implementation of the project “Rights-Based Inclusive Education Access for Children with Disability in Bac Kan province, Vietnam” in line with programme and project requirements. The post holder must support and promote the core values and interests of HI. The Project Manager will work under the supervision of the Programme Director based in Hanoi and will manage one to two project assistants, and up to two field staff (to be recruited).

_Activities_ :

/_Manage the project_/:

– To manage the following project areas: implementation of activities, human resources (field staff), finance and communications. To coordinate with partners strategies on Inclusive Education;

– Determine the methodology to be used in the project appropriate to the Vietnamese understanding of inclusion of disabled children in education

– Support the implementation of activities by partners and consultants, to implement an education policy which takes into account disabled children,

– Write the project narrative reports and participate in financial reports,

– Co-ordinate between all the project’s internal and external stakeholders;

– Prepare and participate in the evaluation phases and implement any pertinent recommendations;

– Provide initiatives to develop the project in the relation to the HI Vietnam’s pluri-annual strategy and participate technically in fundraising.

/_Manage the project and site team:_/

– Draw-up job profiles, validate recruitments an individual action plans for each team member

– Train the team in methods, approaches (participative methods, partnership…) or technical aspects (Inclusive Education, Specialized Education, identification and assessment of disabled children); Ensure effective communication within the HI team in Hanoi and other sites.

/_ Assure the project’s technical framework and its representation_/:

– Ensure that the project is implemented in line with Handicap International’s Inclusive Education policy and the Vietnamese education sector plan. /__/

/_Contribute towards the capitalization of experience:_/

– Identify with the Technical Adviser, which issues or subject areas should be capitalized,

– Define a method for collecting good practice with the Technical Adviser



– Degree in a relevant discipline ; Education, development or disability (equal to BAC + 4 in France)

– Strong management skills. At least 5 years experiences in his/her field or in project management.

– Sound knowledge of Monitoring and Evaluation techniques and methodology

– Ability to work in partnership with national and local actors

– Experience of working within a multi-cultural environment

– English is essential as all project documentation and reporting systems are in English

_Qualities required_: Group leadership, initiative, creativity, diplomacy, interpersonal skills. Written and oral expression, decision making, good team work skills, strong autonomy.


– _Field of studies:_ special Education (Inclusive education, social work…)

– Experience of working in remote area, experience in INGO, experience in Asian context.

REQUIRED LANGUAGE SKILLS: English mandatory both written and oral, French would be an asset.

JOB ENVIRONMENT : The Project Manager will travel to Hanoi once a month to attend a monthly internal HI meeting in order to monitor and share his project with the Hanoi office and the Quang Tri site (HIV/AIDS project).//


_Volunteer :_ 750 or 850 Euros monthly indemnity + living allowance paid on the field + accommodation + 100% medical cover + repatriation insurance

_Salary :_ 2000 to 2300 + 457 Euros expatriation allowance + 100% medical cover + repatriation insurance « + family policy »

Please send resume and covering letter with the above reference to : FPINSERCPEducVietnam1108

HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL – 14, avenue Berthelot – 69361 LYON CEDEX 07

Or by Email : recrut11@handicap-international.org

Please do not telephone

Candidates from Canada or the United States, and nationals of these countries, should send their application to the following address :

1819 Boulevard René Lévesque, bureau 401 – MONTRÉAL, QUÉBEC – H3H 2P5

Or by email : jobs@handicap-international.ca
or fax : 514-937-6685

Please do not telephone

This announcement was previously circulated via the Intl-Dev mailing list; the Global Partnership for Disability and Development mailing list; and other sources.

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LISTSERVE: On-line Discussion of Inclusive Education in Eastern Africa

Posted on 24 June 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Children, Cross-Disability, Education, Networking Opportunities, Opportunities, Sub-Saharan Africa Region, youth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Dear Colleagues,
To support the growing interest in the area of Inclusive Education throughout Eastern Africa, an Eastern Africa Discussion Group was set up to help facilitate discussions, networking and information sharing on this topic.  This discussion group is associated with EENET – The Enabling Education Network, which is a UK based information sharing network which promotes the inclusion of marginalized groups in education world wide.
The initial discussion group that was established was inundated with SPAM.  To overcome this problem the discussion group is now utilizing a Yahoo Group for discussion, which is free of SPAM.
If you would like to join the Eastern Africa Discussion Group, please send an email to eenet_eastern_africa-owner@yahoogroups.co.uk stating your interest to join the discussion group.   Or you may also join via the web at http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/eenet_eastern_africa/

If you join and decide later you do not want to be a part of the group any longer, you can unsubscribe at any time.
If you know any one else who you think might be interested in joining this group, please pass this message to them so as they have the information necessary to join.
Kind Regards,
Dimity Taylor
EENET Eastern Africa

Thank you to Dimity Taylor for submitting this announcement to We Can Do.

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FELLOWSHIP: Intl Fellowship Program for West Africa for 2009/10 Academic Year

Posted on 6 February 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Cross-Disability, Education and Training Opportunities, Fellowships & Scholarships, Opportunities, Sub-Saharan Africa Region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

[Addendum, Feb. 17, 2009: Please note that this blog post is more than one year old and advertises the 2008 application round for the 2009/10 academic year. However, this is an annual opportunity. The application deadline for the 2010/11 academic year is February 27, 2009. Please consult the International Fellowship program site directly for updated information at either http://www.aau.org/ifp/ or at http://www.pathfind.org/ifp]

***************OLD INFORMATION FOLLOWS BELOW THIS LINE, Consult http://www.aau.org/ifp for updated details************

The International Fellowship Program invites all people in certain West African countries, including people with disabilities, to apply for a scholarship. The deadline is February 29, 2008 for the 2009/2010 academic year.

This paragraph is taken from the IFP web site: The International Fellowships Program (IFP) is a program supported by the Ford Foundation, and coordinated in West Africa by the Association of African Universities (AAU) in collaboration with Pathfinder International in Nigeria and the West African Research Center (WARC) in Senegal. IFP provides fellowships for advanced study to exceptional individuals who will use their education to further development in their own countries and greater social and economic justice worldwide. IFP fellowships will be awarded to applicants from diverse backgrounds, including social groups and communities that lack systematic access to higher education.

IFP is planning to award 37 fellowships in West Africa for the 2009/10 academic school year. These fellowships are meant for students who have already completed one degree and are ready to attend graduate school anywhere in the world.

People who wish to learn more about this opportunity should read about it at the IFP web site at:


Inquiries about the scholarship program can also be directed to the following contact:

Pathfinder International Nigeria Country Office
35 Justice Sowemimo St., Asokoro
Abuja FCT
Tel: 09-314 7378
Email: ifpnigeria@pathfind.org

The Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities of Nigeria (JONPWD) also has further information about the scholarship program. JONPWD can be reached at duhkb@yahoo.com.

We Can Do first learned about this scholarship opportunity through the Disabled People International (DPI) on-line newsletter. People can subscribe to the DPI newsletter for free, or read it online, by following the link. (Any text at We Can Do that is underlined or presented in a different color is a hypertext link to an appropriate web page.)

Also at We Can Do: catch up with the news; explore resources, toolkits, or funding and fellowship opportunities that might be helpful for your organization; find research, reports, papers, or statistics; or look up conferences, events, call for papers, or education/training opportunities.

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OPINION: One Laptop per Child—But is it Inclusive?

Posted on 16 November 2007. Filed under: Children, Cross-Disability, Education, Opinion, technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Issue
Bringing laptops to children in developing countries. It’s a nifty concept, meant to help with an enormous challenge: improving the quality of education in developing countries. But is it inclusive of children with disabilities?

Even relatively casual observers of the international development field quickly learn that 77 million children worldwide are not in primary school. And perhaps you also knew that a large portion of those children have disabilities. What we don’t hear about as often is that even the 2 billion children who are fortunate enough to be able to enter a classroom, in many cases, may not be that much better off. The push to put all children in school by 2015, as per the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), has led to more schools, more teachers, and more books—but not necessarily to a better-quality education. So how do we go beyond filling seats with bodies so we can start filling heads with knowledge?

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project thinks they have part of the answer. That’s to put a laptop into the hands of every child in school in developing nations. Not just any laptop, but the XO laptop. The XO is designed specifically for child learners. It has features that allow them to create—be it a picture, a poem, a game, or a computer program. And XO laptops can communicate directly with other XO laptops if they are close enough. That allows for collaborative projects among pairs or groups of students. The laptops are also designed to be used in rugged conditions. They can be used in places where classes might meet outside in bright sunlight, or where students may have no access to electricity.

In developing countries, one of the largest barriers to obtaining resources—be it for disabled people or for their non-disabled peers—is cost. The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project has tackled this, at least part way, by producing a laptop that costs $200. That’s twice as much as their original goal—which was to design a $100 laptop. And that’s still out of reach for any family that lives on less than $1 a day. But it’s within reach for some country governments. Uruguay, for example, has purchased the first 100,000 XOs to come off the assembly line (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7068084.stm). And there may soon be other countries standing in line. The OLPC project has also introduced several ways that people in rich countries can help (see http://www.laptopgiving.org/en/index.php). If things grow quickly from here, we could soon see the day when millions of children are learning through XO laptops and any competitors that might later emerge.

But for children with disabilities, the question of whether someone can and will send them a laptop in the first place is only the first half of the problem. The second half is whether the laptop is even accessible to them.

XO Laptops: Are They Suitable for Young Disabled Students?
I should note here that I have not yet seen an XO laptop for myself. Nor am I an expert in the types of adaptations that are available or most needed by people who are blind, or who have mobility impaired—or, indeed, any disability other than deafness. That means I can’t give an accurate evaluation of how usable an XO laptop is for disabled children. But I can speculate. And given how large the OLCP project hopes to become, I suggest that anyone with an interest in educating disabled children in developing countries should also be speculating. More importantly, they should be sharing their insights and ideas for remedies with the OLPC project.

On the plus side, some disabled children may find that the laptops will be a tremendous boon for them. For example, the XO is sturdier and more durable than most standard, western computers. That could be an important feature for children whose disabilities affect their behavior. They might be less likely to damage the laptop if they throw it during a tantrum or a “meltdown”, for example. Or a child with mobility impairments or dyspraxia can worry less if they drop their laptop.

Also, I like how the XO laptop allows for interactive communication with other laptop users. For children who have communication-related disabilities and who have learned to read and write, it might make communication with their non-disabled peers a little easier. Instead of being forced to talk or read lips in a modality that works poorly for them–if at all–they could have the option of typing back and forth with their classmates or the teacher. This could be especially helpful in situations where no sign language interpreter is available, which is frequently the case in developing countries. I don’t think the XO will ever be a substitute for more appropriate educational placements. (I believe that most deaf children should be in good quality, specialized schools for deaf children. But that’s a subject for another blog post.) But for deaf children who have been thrust into classrooms with no means of understanding their teacher, the laptop could potentially become a tool for teaching themselves, perhaps with the aid of their peers.

But even deaf children, if they are learning alongside hearing peers, may feel left out when their classmates start playing around with the built-in microphone and other auditory-based features. And other disabled children may find the XO laptops to be so inaccessible as to be useless. I suspect that blind children and some children with low vision—as with most computers generally—may suffer the most significant barriers. From what I can gather from their web site, the XO seems to have a very visual interface. That’s great for sighted deaf children, but bad for blind children. There seems to be no provision for screen readers of any kind: a blind child could still type but would have no way to monitor what they are typing or to read it back later. And unless there is some audio feature that I didn’t read about, the heavy graphics would be meaningless to them. That might make it harder for a child with vision impairments to interact with other students in the class. If I understand correctly, a child who wants to work on a project with someone else through the XO needs to bring up an icon representing their classmate and click it.

I also wonder about children with certain mobility impairments, particularly those that affect the use of their hands. As far as I can tell from the OLPC web site, there are no modified keyboards available. In other words, one design fits all—even when it doesn’t. And it’s not just the keyboard that might pose a problem. One of the ways to power up an XO is to either pull on a cord or operate a foot pump—either of which might be problematic for children with certain mobility impairments. What if a child could operate one type of battery re-charger but not the other? If a country buys all of its laptops in one variety, a child may not have the option of switching to equipment that is more usable for them.

Why Inclusion Matters–From the Beginning
Children with disabilities already face enormous barriers in even reaching the classroom. And many face even more barriers inside it. The XO laptop is meant to help bring the world of learning to poor children in developing nations. But for many children with disabilities, the XO laptop, as currently designed, may create new barriers to learning instead of removing them. What is especially worrying to me is that nowhere in their web site does OLPC even acknowledge the problem much less discuss what they’re doing to resolve it. (Or if they do and I missed it, tell me in the comments area below—their site is at www.laptop.org.)

The usual excuse made when a new project excludes disabled people, is, “But we’re new. We’re just starting. We had to start somewhere. We’re not ready for doing anything more specialized right now.” There are two major problems with accepting this type of excuse. First is the issue of justice. People with disabilities have always been the last people to gain access to any new technology or service. As soon as one technology is finally made at least partly accessible, something new has become mainstream to everyone else—but, once again, not for disabled people. By the time innovative deaf people in rich countries finally managed to invent a way to access telephones, for example, all their hearing, middle-class neighbors had color television–while deaf people were, once again, waiting. The delay between the time a new technology or service becomes available to non-disabled people and the time it becomes available to disabled people, in and of itself, creates barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating fully in society. There will always be something new. And, even with advancing medical technology, there will probably always be disabled people. We will only be fully included in society when new things, too, are accessible to us from the first day they become available to the public at wide. After all, aren’t we, too, supposed to be members of the public?

The second problem with accepting the “but it’s new, give us time” excuse is that this is backwards thinking. It is PRECISELY BECAUSE a technology or project is new that the people designing it SHOULD be thinking from the start about the needs of people with disabilities. Suppose you construct a building with stairs and no ramps, then you tear part of it down in order to add the ramps years later, that’s expensive. If you remember the needs of people with disabilities while you’re still working in the blueprint stage then you can make sure it has ramps to begin with, and you can integrate the ramps into the design in a way that saves money. That’s very, very cheap. If you build 100,000 computers for Uruguay with no screen readers, and then belatedly construct a few separate devices to be attached to them later as needed, that’s expensive.

But what if they had given consideration to the needs of blind or dyslexic students, or children with other disabilities, from the beginning? Yes, it probably would have been an enormous challenge to find a way to integrate their needs into the standard design of the XO laptop without significantly increasing its cost. But if they had at least tried—even if they had tried and failed—then if nothing else, we could have been a good five years of research and development closer to achieving an XO that does succeed in including disabled children. And not only that, but it might have been cheaper than whatever add-on fix they come up with now. Or, even if they hadn’t come up with a concept that could be integrated into the standard design, they might at least have come up with design elements that make it easier to add on a fix later. What if they come up with a nice, cheap screen reader, only to find that there isn’t a good way to plug it into the existing XO laptops?

Or perhaps they could have come up with creative design elements that help, not only disabled students, but everyone. After all, curb cuts were implemented for wheelchair riders, but were quickly embraced by non-disabled parents with prams or baby carriages. Closed captions were invented to enable deaf people in rich countries to watch television, but have also been embraced by hearing immigrants learning the language of their new home. Speech recognition software for computers was invented, at least in part, for people who cannot type with their hands, but has been embraced by others as well. What kind of XO would we have had today if they hadn’t thrown away five years of opportunity to find out?

Owning the Issue
Two groups of people need take responsibility for ensuring that the built in exclusion of disabled children in developing countries does not last. First are the people operating the One Laptop Per Child project. If they’re serious about bringing laptops to all two billion children in school, then they would do well to remember that about 10 percent of the world’s population—including children in developing countries—have disabilities. They need to decide whether “all” will truly mean “all,” or if “all” really means “all except disabled children because they’re too difficult to include.”

The obligation doesn’t end with the One Laptop Per Child project, but it does begin with them: they need to be proactive. To start with, they should reach out to organizations of disabled adults and children in developing countries to share the laptop with them and find out exactly what problems they face in using it. They can begin with some of the organizations listed in “Finding Local Disability Organizations” for possible contacts. They should be talking with disabled adults, because people who have already been adapting to their own disabilities for a whole lifetime often see obvious solutions that elude everybody else. And they should be talking with parents and teachers who may notice barriers that even disabled users miss. But most importantly of all, they should be talking with disabled children in developing countries—because the best person to tell us what a disabled child needs is a disabled child.

Also, they should mention the problem of accessibility for children with disabilities throughout their web site, where appropriate. In particular, where they recruit volunteers, they should be specifically asking for people who can help make the laptop more usable for children with a wide range of disabilities. But even in other parts of their web site, for example where they talk about its design features and their future design plans, they can acknowledge its existing limitations and explain how they hope to overcome them. Possibly they could also have a separate page devoted to the topic of accessibility—but this is not a substitute for integration. “Add-on” issues rarely get the attention they deserve: if it’s important, then the organization’s concern for the issue should reverberate through everything they say and do.

Second are people around the world who are already committed to bringing more disabled children in developing countries into the classroom and giving them a high-quality education. That means parents, educators, disabled advocates, non-government organizations (NGOs) and other interested parties. People who have direct experience with the XO laptop can give their feedback to the One Laptop Per Child project. Others can review their web site and offer their advice or consultation services.

I think the One Laptop Per Child program is a good concept and a good cause worth supporting—even with its current flaws. That’s exactly why I urge them to become a more inclusive cause as well. I hope they listen—and take action.

Nicholas Negroponte and the other staff at OLPC: it’s over to you, now.

The facts, figures, and information behind the opinions expressed in this essay come from a range of sources. Most particularly I drew upon the OLPC web site, but you will also note that I link to a number of other sources throughout this article.

Edited 17 Nov. ’07 to add: Eduardo Silva points out (thank you for alerting me) that interested readers can go to http://wiki.laptop.org to see some of the software work that is being done to improve the XO laptop. And as Eduardo Silva indicates, they are indeed working on a text-to-voice screen reader, which you can read about at http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Screen_Reader. However, I still have some concerns about this which I elaborate upon further in the comments area below.

Edited 31 Dec. ’07 to add: I wonder if a Sightsaver’s Dolphin Pen would help blind children make better use of the XO. Is there anyone reading this who is familiar with BOTH the XO AND with the Dolphin Pen (a low-cost screen reader and screen magnifier designed for use in low-income countries)? If so, I would value your input. Please do comment in the comments area below.

Edited 5 Jan. ’08 to add: THANK YOU to the anonymous contributer in the comments area below who led me to the accessibility mailing list for people who want to brainstorm ideas and solutions on how to make the XO more accessible.

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