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Supanova software to assist visually-impaired persons

Readers who have poor eyesight can now easily access ICT services from National libraries after the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) installed software to magnify information in a number of computers.

The programme implemented under a partnership between CA and Kenya National Library Services (KNLS) has seen installation of the software in a number of computers within the 56 branches of Kenya National Libraries across the country.

Support to KNLS by the Authority was made through the Universal Service Fund (USF) created to enhance access to communications services across the country.

According to the Librarian in charge of KNLS Murang’a Branch Ms Caroline Ngacaku, the software dubbed ‘Supanova’ is installed in a few computers of each KNLS branch to assist persons with poor eyesight access reading materials.

Ngacaku said the new service will go a long way to assist especially the aged use computers to read and do research on computers.

“The software complements previous support by the CA to the libraries, which provided our libraries with the computers and Internet, and in effect, transforming our facilities into e-resource centres to promote digital learning,” Ngacaku explained.

She said the programme provides a platform to facilitate increased access of ICT services countywide to all Kenyans including persons living with disabilities.

Most National libraries are beneficiaries of this software, which has increased accessibility to ICT services for persons with poor eyesight and who in the past could not enjoy services in the libraries.

“The software simply magnifies information for the user and this makes it easier to read,” the Librarian said.

Ngacaku noted that persons with poor eyesight especially the elderly are able to read newspapers and books which are pre-installed in the computers adding that this is a major step towards bridging the digital divide.

According to Ngacaku, the library gets on average two people per day who are visually impaired seeking to access ICT services.

“The library is continuing to create awareness on the availability of ICT services among persons with disabilities by visiting local institutions like schools for the visually impaired children,” Ngacaku added.

She observed that some of the challenges that visually impaired persons face when accessing and using ICT services is the challenge of identifying letters on the keyboard.

“I recommend for improvement of ICT services for persons living with disability and request the CA to consider providing a keyboard in Braille to complement the software,” she stated.

She noted that KNLS values the contribution of its partnership with CA as it ensures a way of enhancing access to information by all which will fast track growth of ICT and broadband across the country by the end of 2022.

By Anita Omwenga and Bernard Munyao

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