This was an article written for the media on Jan 19, 2016 at Gulu High School.
Oysters & Pearls Hosts Third Annual Technology Camp for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Northern Uganda.
Oysters & Pearls – Uganda announces that it is sponsoring its 2016 Residential Holiday Technology Training Camp for Secondary School students. The much anticipated program is being held at Gulu High School from 10 January 2016 through 22 January 2016. Classes run from 9 am to 10 pm. This year’s enrollment includes 105 students from 38 schools. The camp offers intensive hands-on ICT training for the blind and visually impaired; and, the most advanced Robotics and Video Game Design technology for the sighted.
Blind and visually impaired students are learning ICT in order to access academic material such as textbooks and teacher’s notes; and, to prepare to sit for UCE and UACE exams. In October 2015, two students who participated in the previous technology camps, were the first blind or visually impaired students to sit for the UNEB O-Level Computer Exam. Three previous technology camp participants were the first blind or visually impaired students to sit for the Computer Subsidiary Exam in 2013. Each of these students is setting an example of what is possible for all blind and visually impaired students throughout Uganda, when given equal access to the same technology as sighted students. Robotics and Video Game Design students learn the most current technology and techniques in sensor and motor-based robotics, Web development and game art.
In addition, students have an opportunity to play with Oculus Virtual Reality programs which run on smartphones using Samsung VR Gear. The evening programs offer developing Android apps and HTML coding. The popular camp has attracted teachers from Mbarara, Kampala, Lira and the United States. Following the workshops, the teaching team will stay behind until 27th January to participate in Train the Teacher workshops to create strategies to continue the programs within their areas throughout the year. The technology camp is the brain-child of Sandra Washburn, the founder of Oysters & Pearls-Uganda. “Access to technology is foundational to any student in order to compete in any industry for any job today,” says Washburn. “This one of a kind technology camp levels the playing field for a blind or visually impaired student; and, for sighted students it positions them to design and develop relevant solutions for the needs of Uganda.”
Washburn is excited to see how the teachers will continue the programs in their own schools through 2016 and added “we will continue to promote access to the latest technology for the blind and visually impaired through our community office in Gulu Town. And, we will provide support for the Robotics and Video Game students wishing to work in our Makerspace to continue their work during the school year.” The projects created by the participants during the holiday technical camp will be showcased Friday 22nd of January from 2pm-5pm. Mr Ojok Christopher, recent Gulu High School graduate and has been recognized for his ability in Speech and Debate, will emcee the program. All are invited to hear the presentations and visit the classrooms to see the projects first hand.
Oysters & Pearls – Uganda is a registered NGO in Uganda and has been working with the blind and visually impaired in Northern Uganda since 2011. In 2013, a program to robotics and advanced computing was developed for the sighted students. In 2015, a community office was opened in Gulu Town to serve a wider audience. Oysters &Pearls -Uganda works closely with several Ugandan partners such as Fundi Bots, based in Kampala, and U-Touch, which has five community-based offices in Uganda.