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Creation of Internet Availability Center at the Cultural Center of the Armenian Society of Blind and Visually Impaired People

There are many visually-impaired people in Armenia. They are well-educated and familiar with Internet. Giving them the possibility to surf and browse the web will add much to their freedom. The Internet can be of great value to them as it empowers them to independently complete tasks which they would normally not be able to accomplish without help from others (such as reading mail or managing bank accounts). Traditionally, blind people have been dependent on written information that has been translated into braille or audio books, which often take time to be produced. Through the Internet, new information (such as newspaper articles) is available.

The most common way for the vision-impaired user to access the internet is with a traditional browser and text-to-speech software. There are also screen readers and applications like self-voicing web browsers and other software helping visually impaired to use the Internet.

ISOC Armenia Chapter always considered the care of people with disabilities as one of its main tasks. That is why we applied for the grant of Internet Society.

During the first phase of the project the room intended for the Internet Availability Center was renovated and cabled. It included installing new doors for a higher security, replacement of windows, laying special floor tiles and equipping technicians’ room.
During the second phase of the grant the following works were completed:

– electrical and network cabling for 16 points were done,

– a contract with ISP for the Internet connection  was signed.

– a glass wall was set up in the corridor thus adding to the Internet Center one more room that serves as a relaxation room.

– 10 special computer desks were acquired. Four more were donated by privates.

– 6 computers were acquired, 2 were donated by the Armenian branch of the American IRD (Internet Relief and Development) organization, and 2 more were donated by the Internet Society of Armenia,

– Two «Onix» and one «Pearl» device, scanner and brail printer, as well as a projector was provided by the Ministry of Transport and Communications. One scanner-printer was donated by the “Armenians and sea” organization.

– 10 films with tiflo-commentaries were received from Russian Society of Blinds.

– In January 2013 a  furniture was received from the Armenian branch of the IRD including cabinets, tables, armchairs, sofa, magazine table, small cabinets as well a drinking water device and air conditioner,

– Within the framework of the grant the Arev program was purchased and installed on 6 computers. The program was developed for blinds by the Yerevan Institute of Mathematical machines. Thus, by the end of January 2013 the establishment of the Internet Center was completed.

Since February 2013 the Center started its operations at full strength.

Pic1 – A picture of the Internet AvailabilityCenter.

Pic2– President of ISOC Armenia Chapter Igor Mkrtumyan tells guests about the Internet Availability Center. There is a cadre from the “The smell of woman” film with tiflo-commentary on the screen.