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Kitengesa Community Library, Uganda – Including the deaf among those who hear
Public Library Fran Galovic, Croatia – ‘Jump in the train for a better world’ – ICT support for Roma people
Luhansk Region Universal Scientific Library named after A. N. Gorky, Ukraine – ‘The breath of freedom’ – ICT school for people with disability
Biblioteca Pública Fernando Gómez Martinez, Colombia – ICT training for people living with disability
‘Through the library, deaf students know more English…. Moreover, we also learn from other community members by interacting with them.’ – Lydia, student of Good Samaritan School for the Deaf.
Kitengesa Community Library is playing a vital role in ending the isolation of over 100 deaf children, who for the first time are sharing space with regular library users, taking part in lessons in computer use and English language, playing games and using Skype to communicate with friends in Canada.
The library reaches out to Good Samaritan School for the Deaf, where over 100 boarding and day students have enrolled for primary education and vocational skills training in tailoring, knitting and hairdressing, and learn Ugandan Sign Language. Good Samaritan is a community-based organization, depending mainly on private donations which are barely enough to cover food, tuition, and health care. The library is therefore a vital resource for Good Samaritan, as it is for other schools in Kitengesa, a rural trading centre in central Uganda.
‘Our pupils are very happy because of the opportunity presented to them by the library to enable them to communicate with their friends in Canada through Skype, which is amazing, and because of the computer training for our staff to be able to teach the students and manage our school records…. The community library has become one the favourite places for our pupils to learn and socialise, and a pivot for community integration for development.’ – Mrs Scovia Nsamba, director of the Good Samaritan School for the Deaf.
Until 2012, when the library introduced its social inclusion programme, Good Samaritan students did not come to the library and were isolated from the larger community. Few Ugandans know sign language, and even within their own families, deaf children may be regarded as mentally retarded and unable to contribute to society.
Now, about 20 students from Good Samaritan visit the library every week, to use the computers, to read, meet their friends and play games, sharing space with the library’s 650 regular users from the community. Partnerships with local schools enable the library to bring hearing students into contact with Good Samaritan students, helping overcome prejudice.
The library has also established a Ugandan Sign Language Club, with 30 members, 25 of whom can now communicate effectively with deaf students. Deaf students from Good Samaritan teach sign language to club members.
‘We thank the library for allowing us to organize our sign language class. We have been teaching sign language to students from a neighbouring school, and as a request we wish that sign language dictionaries and books would be available at the library. Thus, sign language will be more accessible to other people and they will continue to learn sign languages during academic breaks.’ – Eseza, Nakayenga, Pius, and Sharon, members of the Sign Language Club.
The library also attracts volunteers from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, who helped develop the ICT programme and who offered English lessons. Every Saturday, children from Good Samaritan come to the library to use Skype to chat to their friends in Canada.
'The course “Surfing in the library” has given me the skills to research the internet for my homework, to prepare PowerPoint presentations for school lessons and has also helped me in learning the Croatian language.’ – new computer user, Damir R, aged 13.
Through information and communication technology (ICT) training, Public Library Fran Galovic is developing skills in the Roma community and building trust and respect between Roma and Croatian children in the town of Koprivnica in northern Croatia.
There are about 300 Roma people living in separate settlements in Koprivnica. There are also many Roma, who mostly register as Croats, living among the town’s 30,000 inhabitants. Roma people often struggle with unemployment and poverty, and living conditions are poor. Because the majority of Roma cannot afford or do not have an interest in tertiary and vocational training, they cannot compete for better jobs. Also, because some Roma people continue with their traditional, nomadic way of life, their children do not have consistent relationships with the education system and do not speak Croatian well.
These factors – poverty and a different culture and language – work together to set Roma children apart in school, and they are sometimes exposed to prejudice and stigma, which lead to feelings of inferiority. Their difficult situation was summed up by a teacher: ‘It is hard to end up in unfamiliar environment, with a school teacher who does not understand you, and nobody at home to help you with homework.’
|'I do not have a computer or internet access at home. I cannot express how much Public Library Fran Galović has helped me with my studies, which are not easy. Visiting the library to use the internet has become part of my search for knowledge, and I am proud to say that I received a national Dandelion of Knowledge Award for achievements in lifelong learning in 2011.' – Roma Classroom Assistant, Ms Ljiljana Car. Classroom Assistants work in schools to help Roma pupils and improve communication between those who do not speak Croatian well and Croatian teachers.|
To improve living conditions and promote social inclusion, the Croatian government offers a national programme of assistance for Roma people. Koprivnica town council’s local development agenda embraces this vision, and the library’s ‘Jump in the train for a better world’ programme contributes to the town agenda.
‘... the training programme for Roma children and youth in computer and information literacy in our library is a significant contribution towards integration of the Roma population, because it gives children and young people indispensible knowledge and also keeps them away from the streets. The library offers the possibility of more frequent contact and meetings with children from the culture of the majority population....’ – Ms Vesna Želježnjak, Acting Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Koprivnica.
The public library’s social inclusion programme has been growing steadily since 2000, when it began with a public awareness programme about the culture and needs of Roma people. Since 2003, the library has celebrated April 8, World Roma Day, with activities that bring Roma and non-Roma children and youth together. In 2007, the library created a Roma Corner, with over 100 books and articles for children and adults in Romani and other languages.
The free ICT training programme started in 2011. Young adults, teenagers and children from Roma families learn basic computer and information literacy skills with other Croatians. The training is implemented in partnership with the Roma association, Step-by-Step, and the Open University, and takes place in the public library and at the Open University – both well known and unthreatening spaces for Roma people.
Librarians see the positive impact of the programme daily. About 75 Roma children and teenagers now have library cards and every day, over 10 stay at the library after school to use the computers for web-surfing and social networking, and to do homework, watch DVDs and read while they wait for buses to take them home.
School teachers are now also using the library to deepen their understanding of Roma communities, and report that they now have stronger connections with Roma children.
‘The time the Roma children spend at the library enables them to find out more about the world outside the Roma community, which makes them culturally richer. They meet and talk to other children of their age at the library, which significantly contributes to development of their social and communicative skills.’ – Ms Franka Ruzić, a teacher at ‘Antun Nemcic Gostovinski’ Primary School, who works with children who have social integration and learning difficulties.
Public library Fran Galovic will continue its programme long into the future. Plans include working in collaboration with experts and Roma associations to create a more systematic approach to working with Roma communities.
|ICT training includes young Roma adults.||Young achievers - Roma and non-Roma children show off their ICT skills certificates.|
‘You can’t just stand still while the world is moving forward!’ – Mrs Aleksandra Dwornikowska, 62.
According to European Union research (2012) two thirds of Europeans aged 65-74 and half those aged 55-64 have never used the internet, in stark contrast to younger people, who use the internet almost daily. The most common reasons seniors give are lack of computer skills and access, the high cost of connections and equipment, and lack of interest.
Research by librarians found a similar situation in Twardogóra, a small town with about 8,000 inhabitants in southwestern Poland. In addition to admitting to a lack of skills, many seniors surveyed expressed feelings of social exclusion because they are unable to use the internet.
Twardogóra Public Library is taking up the challenge of including seniors in the internet era through ‘Internet ABC for Seniors’, a training programme that centres on practical daily needs, including online banking and shopping, communication tools like email and Skype, and recreational interests – web-surfing, digital photography and travel.
The service is extremely popular. In 2011, the number of seniors using Twardogóra Public Library’s eight computers increased from 10 a month before the training to 80 a month after the training. Seniors now comprise 40% of all the library’s computer users. The overall number of seniors using the library doubled, from 50 to 120 in the same period. And librarians say numbers are still growing.
Courses are taught by ICT specialists and volunteers. To demonstrate their skills, the first group of trainees presented an exhibition of photographs which they edited using free software downloaded from the internet. Seniors have launched a Seniors Club, and post events on the library’s Facebook page. After several requests, the library launched an English language course to help seniors feel more integrated into modern Poland.
Twardogóra Public Library’s two branch libraries have joined in, and now ‘Internet ABC for Seniors’ is also offered to residents of the nearby villages of Goszcz and Grabowno Wielkie.
The aim of ‘Around the world in 80 minutes’ was to bring people of different generations together. Young people and the elderly were divided into teams: Art Lovers, Jungle Explorers, Scuba Divers, Photographers, Entomologists and The Incas. Each team had to journey through virtual jungles, deserts, canyons, oceans, museums and an Inca city. Young volunteers helped seniors use the computers. The project was such a great success that librarians are now consistently seeking ways of encouraging cooperation between the generations.
‘Here I can learn English for free with other people of my age, without feeling uneasy or ashamed to ask questions. I am really happy the library gave us such an opportunity!’ –Mrs Maria Knefel, 64, who is one of 10 seniors taking part in English classes.
For further information about this service, contact Ms Nadija Lomanowa-Baranska at email@example.com.
|‘The project ‘Around the world in 80 minutes’ impressed me most. The places I have always wanted to see look so realistic on the internet, so beautiful. I was fascinated with online scuba diving, the coral reefs looked so exciting….
I also took real pleasure in working with young people, who were helpful and friendly.’– Mrs Danuta Zając, 65, was also extremely enthusiastic about a video conference with her daughter who lives in Italy. After the conference, she used the internet to book an air ticket to visit her daughter.
|'I overcame my fear of ICT as a result of the teaching. I learned to research information about the prices and quality of goods. Today I am the happy owner of a dishwasher, and although I didn’t buy it online, I used online price comparing tools. By researching travel offers online, I managed to find a trip to Cyprus for a reasonable price – and for the first time in my life flew in an aeroplane!’ – Mrs Aleksandra Dwornikowska, 62, who was one of 20 seniors who attended online finance training.|
‘I call this programme the breath of freedom. After training, I had confidence that I could get a job. I also believed I could help and support others with disabilities.’ – Natalia Baburina, who uses a wheelchair for mobility.
The library’s mobile internet literacy programme provides training for people living with disability wherever it is most convenient for them – in the safety of their own homes, at centres run by disability associations and in the library.
The mobile service is the newest addition to the library’s social inclusion programme, which ensures that people with disability have full access to all the library’s services, especially information and communication technology (ICT) access and training, and consultations with skilled librarians.
The library, based in the city of Luhansk, is the largest public library in Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine. There are over 100,000 people living with disability in the region.
|Learning at home - blind trainer Mr Sergey Rakachov, right, with trainee Mr Dmitriy Shapovalov.|
|Learning in the park - the library's training includes people with different kinds of disability.|
|Learning in the library - Ms Natalia Baburina - one of the library's first ICT trainees.|
The social inclusion programme is extremely popular. In just 10 months in 2012, the library recorded 2,368 visits by people with disability to the library to use the internet and other services. Librarians, trainers and volunteers held 362 training sessions outside the library, and conducted over 870 internet consultations. The library currently has 848 library users who live with disability – and the number is growing.
The programme goes back to 2006 when the library opened an internet centre with some facilities for people with disability, using funds funding from the US Embassy’s Library Electronic Access Programme (LEAP). However, there were still obstacles for people living with severe disability, and so in 2008 the library created an information centre named ‘Dzerelo’ (Spring), on the first floor, with a ramp for wheelchairs, sliding doors and books and journals (braille, large print and audio) for people with disability.
But still they wanted to do more. In 2010, following a community survey, the library developed the mobile service to take ICT and training to people who cannot come to the library. Now training takes place wherever those in need feel most comfortable and secure.
The library reaches out to people with all kinds of disability – visual, hearing, physical and cognitive. Specialist communication training has improved the ability of 38 librarians to guide information searches and the library has created a database of library users who live with disability, detailing their situations and information needs.
News has spread throughout the region’s 18 districts. To extend its reach, the library has trained staff of public libraries in six more districts to work with people with disability. Several government and non-governmental organizations support the programme, identifying service users, marketing training and sharing activities.
The library’s mobile information literacy training programme has received funding from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The EIFL-PLIP award is the programme’s second: in 2011, at the Ukraine Library Innovation Fair, the library took second place in the contest for the most innovative library service.
The programme is changing people’s lives
‘In such a short period, my daughter has learned a lot. She especially likes learning with the volunteer trainers, and now she dreams of becoming a librarian one day.’ – mother of Marina Grechishkina, who uses a wheelchair for mobility. Unable to attend school, Marina struggled with and literacy. But now that she has
learnt to use ICT, she has new hope for a better future.
‘Through learning in the mobile school, I was able to continue working as a history teacher. Now I feel like a modern teacher instead of like a deprived, visually disabled person.’ – Elena Tsukanova, who is blind.
‘My life has completely changed! This training has opened new horizons.’ – Igor Sanin, who is blind. Before participating in the course, Igor did not know how to use ICT. Now he uses the computer to study German and plans to open an online store.
‘Thanks to this project – the trainers, librarians and funders. I am sure that the mobile school has a future, because so many people with disabilities would like to learn ICT.’ – Sergei, who is blind, now uses the internet to find clients for a freight company.
For further information, contact Ms Natali Dida at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|‘Heartfelt thanks to the mobile school home training in computer literacy.’
– Mr Vladimir Zuev, who uses a wheelchair for mobility. Mr Zuev learnt ICT skills through the mobile training service. Through the internet, he managed to locate close family members who live abroad, and with whom he had lost contact for over 20 years.
ICT training for people living with disability
‘I love coming to the library because I am learning about the parts of the body – and I can use the internet for everything,’ – Jon Fredy David Duarte, who has cognitive disabilities.
|‘I feel very peaceful here. In the computers I see things that I like – people playing instruments, people singing. I know how to use the disability kit which is very good because I see friends on the computer with magnifiers.’ – Edier Montoya, who has cognitive and hearing disabilities.|
Jon Fredy is one of 78 people living with disability who now regularly visit Biblioteca Pública Fernando Gómez Martinez in Medellin, Colombia’s second largest city, to take advantage of the library’s free information and communication technology (ICT) training.
The training is part of the programme ‘Other Ways to Read and Write’, which is open to people with all kinds of disability (visual, hearing, cognitive and physical) and to close family members and carers. In addition to free ICT access and training, the service provides workshops in Braille, sign language and speech therapy, reading, recreation and games. An important aim of the programme is to help people with disability to apply for jobs, and there are also classes in leatherwork and other crafts.
The library is located in Commune 7 (Robledo), Medellin. ‘Other Ways to Read and Write’ was launched in February 2011 after a community survey found that many people living with disability in the commune had little or no access to information or education.
When it started, the service had just one user. Word spread quickly in the community, and today 78 people with disability and 66 family members visit the library. At present, the library is working with people living with autism, Down’s Syndrome, dyslexia, hearing and visual impairments, and various physical disabilities.
To combat stigma surrounding disability in the community, librarians encourage people with disability to take part in all other library programmes, including cultural events, story-time, reading clubs, computer awareness and family literacy.
Librarians train disabled users and their carers to operate computers using a multi-purpose disability kit donated by the Public Libraries Network of Medellin and the Metropolitan Region, an association of 29 libraries. The kit includes digital magnifiers, screen readers, computer Braille and adapted keyboards and mouse devices.
|‘My sister has changed for the better as a result of this programme. She is now more integrated into the family and is no longer so isolated. When she first came to the programme, she did not utter a word! But now she reads and writes, understands the stories, and takes part in art therapy too.' – sister who cares for Maria Eugenia, who has hearing and visual disabilities.||
|‘This library is Charly’s life – it is like a second home for him. It gives me peace of mind knowing he is in the library. I am so grateful for the wonderful support he gets there. The programme has helped improve his movement. He is using the computer, listening to stories and asking questions.’
– ArangoYeisel Lara, whose son, Charly Hernández,has physical and cognitive disabilities.