Oriental Daily News Report Translation：Free Smartphone Application Classes Aiding the Visually Challenged in Seeing Through Technology
Oriental Daily 2022.10.11 Tuesday
Free Smartphone Application Classes
Aiding the Visually Challenged in Seeing Through Technology
Physically Challenged Teachers Teach with Love and Patience
60-Year-Old Woman Now Able to Head Out Freely
Technology has brought convenience to humanity, and for the visually challenged, technology has made their lives significantly easier, allowing them to study or even have jobs like ordinary people. The “Seeing Through Technology” program, initiated by the Hong Kong Network for the Promotion of Inclusive Society (HKNPIS), aims to help the visually impaired achieve the impossible through the implementation of technology. The program has also hired physically challenged individuals as instructors, who were once all struggling with technology, thus being the most suitable candidates for teaching students how to use smartphones. Several students have purchased the latest mobile phone model to “connect with the world,” and other pupils near the age of seventy have felt more at ease, as they know how to use smartphones when heading out and are grateful for the teachers’ patience tutoring.
Mok Kim Wing, Kim, HKNPIS’s chief executive, who lost his sight at an early age, said that information and communication technology “has advanced immensely in recent years,” such as citizens are required to use the Leave Home Safe app and Vaccine Pass during the pandemic, resulting in accelerated widening of the disadvantaged groups’ digital gap and a sense of ostracization. Hence, Kim believes that it is essential to educate the visually challenged to “see through technology” and help them fit in society by broadening their horizons and regaining their access to society. It teaches them how to use the Internet and search for advanced study opportunities, boosting their employability accordingly.
Pandemic Widens Digital Gap Between Disadvantaged Groups
HKNPIS has conducted multiple free courses on smartphone usage, teaching the use of e-wallets, messaging applications, the Internet, how to update mobile phones, and how to sign up for an email account. These courses have benefited hundreds of physically challenged individuals ranging from ten to over seventy. Kim elaborates using this example, “A visually impaired student who did not know how to use Facebook has begun posting and using emojis ever since she added me as a friend.”
One of the students, Ms. Yeung, who is over sixty years old, has suffered from eyesight problems for over a decade. She is not able to see words or small objects and also needs company whenever she heads shopping. According to Ms. Yeung, she has benefited immensely from the smartphone lessons, especially learning how to enter mobile phone passcodes, browse websites, and even use messaging apps, which has been a great help, and she has learned so much. She also stated that “heading out used to be frightening, but now I can leave the house with ease.” Ms. Yeung compliments that the teachers are careful and considerate and would not stop teaching step by step until students fully understand how to use smartphones.
Wong Chak Yu, born visually impaired, is the program’s assistant technology instructor. He spent almost five months familiarizing himself with mobile phone usage and thinks hand gestures are the most challenging aspect of teaching. Older students who do not use smartphones require patient instruction since they do not possess related technological knowledge. Wong believes that the benefit of appointing visually challenged individuals to be instructors is that they are able to stand from the students’ perspectives and understand the students’ needs and thoughts. For example, students may not be aware of what a smartphone’s home screen looks like, so the instructors use product racks to describe the order of applications on the screen so the students can understand how to press related buttons.
By Reporter Chong Tak Ying