KBT Sponsors Brailler Repair Training

Mr. Jude Afema assisting trainees on how to remove a mainspring

This is a report for the training of Perkins Brailler repair technicians. This training was sponsored by the Perkins school for the blind, Kilimanjaro blind trust and USAID and was implemented by Uganda National Association of the Blind. Twelve participants were drawn from twelve different schools and districts of Uganda. The selection was conducted by the UNAB staff, board, head teachers and head of units. During the training, participants were trained on how to handle general maintenance and minor repairs. According to our assessment participants can now handle all the minor repairs and general maintenance. Participants were all given a full tool kit each to use in the field and will be followed up to select best seven who will be invited for the advanced training.

OBJECTIVES OF THE TRAINING;
1. To equip participants with the basic skills on how to handle minor repairs and general maintenance.
2. Increase the number of technicians in the field who can handle minor repairs.

In Uganda, we have over 5000 blind children in schools and 1000 Perkins Braillers. Like any other equipments, Perkins Braillers too face mechanical problems and need regular servicing. In order to achieve this in time, we need technicians who can at least handle minor repairs and refer major ones to UNAB. There is a very big gap between the number of Braillers and the users. This means more than four blind children share a Perkins Brailler and therefore over worked, leading to continuous and regular breakages. We acknowledge the fact that there are other more advanced innovations that can read and write Braille but can not be applied in sub sahara Africa in the near future because;

Joseph supervising trainees as they try to fix the keys back

a) Most of the new innovations need electricity yet in most sub sahara Africa, there is no hope for electricity in the near future,
b) Others need to be connected to gadgets like computers which make the processes of writing to be more expensive yet this is a third world country (a case for Uganda),
c) A perkins Brailler remains cheaper and can stand the most hard condition,
d) The durability of a perkins Brailler compared to other innovations if high,
However, despite all the above most of the parents of the blind children are poor and therefore can not afford to buy a Brailler for their children. The government of Uganda is positive doesn’t have much to contribute towards this cause.

In order to redress this challenges, we need continuous supply of Perkins Braillers in the country, technicians who can work on them in case of mechanical problems and supply of spare parts.

EXPECTATIONS;
– Acquire knowledge,
– Secure tools and spare parts,
– Get certificates,
– Transport refund,
– Out of pocket,
– Get manuals and hand outs,
– Good feeding and accommodation,

Participants helping each other to reassemble a Perkins Brailler

– Make new friends,
– First aid.

OBSERVATIONS/RESULTS
– Members successful mastered the training. They qualify for the advanced training.
– Participants professed that since the inception of the repair project, there has been serious improvement of the performance of the blind children in schools.
– The more we entered further into the training, the trainees seemed to find it harder and it took us more time on some topics than we had anticipated.
– Schools may be supportive but luck some of the resources.
– During the training, eight Perkins Braillers were repaired by the trainees.

CHALLENGES.
• Most of the technicians we have trained don’t use internet, this may delay communication and reports from the field.

Group photo during program closure

• Schools/units of the blind are spread apart and this may affect the assistance expected from technicians to the nearby schools.
• Majority of the technicians trained are teachers who are connected to some units, but may not be able to get time to assist other schools where they are not stationed.
• Some of the trained technicians have fewer Braillers to practice on. They may not have a lot of chance to explore and or build their carrier.
• Transfers and promotions may affect some of the technicians’ performance.
• Lack of recommended Braille paper on the market and money to secure it outside Uganda.