Twenty-five visually impaired students received individual electronic devices after the President’s Trust Foundation set its target to raise €150,000 to help them keep up with the national curriculum and their peers. This was in fact the second ceremony following the one held in December 2018, bringing the total number of students who benefitted from this initiative up to sixty-five.
Electric video magnifiers, calculators with a big display, Braille equipment and tablets were among the apparatus donated by President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca during the ceremony which was held at San Anton Palace, Attard.
“Once again, this is a day of celebration, which grew from a number of collaborations that came together during the National Readathon organised to encourage primary school children to read”, President Coleiro Preca stated, whilst thanking all those who were involved in all the aspects of this initiative. “Through everyone’s endeavours the President’s Trust is investing in our children and young people to ensure that they are given their due dignity throughout their education and throughout their life in general. This is, after all, a fundamental human right”, President Coleiro Preca said.
Through this campaign, last March, 1,000 students raised €8,000 to purchase tailor-made devices for visually impaired students. However, much more was needed to help all these students.
The President’s Trust Foundation’s director Sarah Bondin said that emboldened by the success of this initiative, it got together with the National Literary Agency, the Foundation for Information Technology Accessibility, the Education Department, the NGO Advice, Re/Max and Friends, APS Bank, the Convenience Shops and the Vodafone Malta Foundation to raise €150,000 to help these students.
“We embarked on an exercise with teachers and FITA to establish the individual needs of each visually impaired student and to determine what technological devices would help them access the national curriculum. This was not a one-size fits all exercise”, Bondin said.
These devices, which can be used at home and at school, will enable students to read books and handouts, access diagrams and maps, as well as stimulate and strengthen a youngster’s vision where necessary.
“We appreciate that no equipment will resolve all the hurdles these students encounter, but it will help facilitate their lives. We are also aware that the needs of these students can change over the years and we hope we will be able to continue helping them in the future.” Bondin also remarked that this was the first National Readathon of its sort.
Set up in 2015 by President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, the trust brings together renowned and experienced businessmen, academics and professionals to create collaborations that make a tangible impact on youngsters facing difficult situations and vulnerable communities.