The Rwanda Union of the Blind (RUB) and the Rwanda Basic Education Board (REB) have launched the Use of the Orbit Reader 20 device for the education of the visually impaired learners in Rwanda.
During the launching event which took place on the 4th April 2022, the Director General of REB, Dr Mbarushimana Nelson, said that REB will do whatever possible to enable learners with visual impairment have access to the Orbit Reader 20 devices so that they are able to get quality and Inclusive education.
Orbit Reader 20 is a digital braille display assistive device used by the visually impaired to read, write and communicate.
Dr Mbarushimana, Director General of the REB, said: “One of the responsibilities of the Rwanda Basic Education Board is to use our best efforts to promote the use of edu-tech solutions in all schools.”
He confirmed that next year the Orbit Reader 20 devices will be rolled out to all special schools that provide education to visually impaired learners.
So far, RUB on the support of Kilimanjaro Blind Trust Africa (KBTA) has been able to secure 75 Orbit Reader 20 devices which are few compared to the number of learners in need.
The REB administration emphasizes that the Orbit Reader 20 facilitates learning interactions between teachers and students.
Orbit Reader 20 helps students with visual impairment to access the educational content and other information as the student can chat with the teacher in class to get all the information needed in accessible format.
According to Dr. Betty Mukarwego, President of the Rwandan Union of the Blind, Orbit Reader 20 is going to provide a lot of help to children with visual impairments.
“These devices will help children with visual impairments in Rwanda. As you all know, visually impaired learners have a lot of issues in terms of having access to books because those are available in formats that visually impaired learners cannot access. So, these devices will help in tackling those problems.” Dr. Mukarwego said.
She goes on to say that children with visual impairments, when the time comes for exams, learners with visual impairment are given their own room because the classic braille machines make noises to other students.
“With these smart devices, there will be no need to separate them from others during the examination period,” she said.
Hategekimana Joseph, a visually impaired student in G.S HVP Gatagara-Rwamagana, says that the Orbit Reader 20 helps them to take notes, read books and easily communicate with other learners and teachers.
“As a student, Orbit Reader 20 is useful to me. The classic machines were problematic for us due to their weight but this one is easier for us” He testifies
He says the orbit reader has solved the problem of paper for the visually impaired.
He adds that he has the ability to store documents for a long time, and that he can read novels of any size.
On the other hand, he calls for an Orbit reader 20 per child program as the other sighted learners have had the one laptop per child. “We want the One orbit reader per child the same as the One Laptop per child government program,” he said.
The Orbit Reader 20 costs between $ 750 and $ 900. 75 Orbit Reader 20 have already been donated to the six pilot schools through a partnership initiative between REB, RUB and the Kilimanjaro Blind Trust Africa and10 teachers were trained on the use of these Orbit Reader 20.
In Rwanda, there are over 57,000 people with visual impairments.