How English + IT is Creating a Whole New World for the Blind

In previous stories, we’ve highlighted Buy1GIVE1 projects showcasing how e-learning is transforming rural communities, and how urban regions are specializing education for disadvantaged youth. This time, we are shining the spotlight on a project that combines both.

The Australian Charity for the Children of Vietnam (ACCV) empowers the blind in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, through English lessons and computer-assisted education. They call this project their E.L.I.T.E (English Language & IT Education) training program, and I was fortunate enough to spend some time with the students and see their lessons in action.

I quickly learned that, not surprisingly, job opportunities are limited for the blind and visually impaired in the country. Many of the blind just stay at home with their families. I was surprised to find out those who do get jobs often become masseurs. But the students I talked to wanted more, and explained how learning English and computer skills could open so many doors to careers and more connected lives.

ACCV E.L.I.T.E students learn English.

Visually impaired students Hoan (left) and Huy (right) study English during E.L.I.T.E course.

Their smiles and laughter were contagious. One teacher, named Chi, commented to me, “we can see, but maybe sometimes we are not happy like them.”

The students told me how much being connected through the internet improves their quality of life. They are able to communicate with the blind all over the world, growing their knowledge base and expanding their horizons.

“They are really enthusiastic, they are very smart and they have strong determination,” said Chi. “I admire them. I actually learn a lot from them, they overcome their difficulties and are very happy, optimistic, and I really respect that.”

One student mentioned that by learning English and computer skills, he is more eligible to work in hospitality and tourism. He thanks his teachers, program sponsors like Buy1GIVE1 businesses, and a very cool and innovative technology called JAWS.

JAWS software is a screen reader program that enables the blind to use computers through “speech and braille output.” The program can process words on the screen and then a voice repeats them back to the user.

JAWS helps a lot, but ACCV is always on the lookout for ways to expand its program and opportunities for students. A few years back, ACCV sent two of the program’s first students, Dat and Hong, to Australia to pick up some new ideas and tools for the visually impaired.

Hong is now getting her bachelor's degree in Social Work.

One of the first E.L.I.T.E students and now staff member, Hong, learns to use a cane.

Dat is now the president of the Thanh Tri Blind Association, and Hong is working on getting her bachelor’s degree in Social Work. Hong also works for E.L.I.T.E, sharing her knowledge with other program participants.

ACCV was founded after Alison Vidotto and her family were stunned by local children’s living conditions during a family vacation to Hanoi back in 2006. She wanted to give these children a chance to reach their full potential, and now ACCV has three projects in Vietnam: the E.L.I.T.E program, a medical assistance program for kids with debilitating diseases, and a tuition assistance program for the nation’s poorest youth.

These projects start at just $1 USD to support, and with only $3.75 USD per day, ACCV is able to provide that English and IT training.

This is a really great example of the power of small, because blindness is not a problem that affects a large percentage of the population and probably wouldn’t attract much public attention on its own. So for those who would otherwise slip through the cracks, this kind of small business giving makes all the difference.

Contributions through Buy1GIVE1 have already helped so many who are visually impaired, empowering them to contribute as productive members of society. This allows them to create better lives for themselves, their families and their communities.

And if you’d like to support ACCV too, you can. All you need do is click the project below and enter the amount you wish to give to create the impact you want. It’s as simple and as powerful as that.

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About Tracy Oppenheimer

Tracy joined B1G1 at the beginning of 2016 to oversee creative content, and produce videos to showcase the amazing things B1G1 & its partners are doing. She shoots and edits, but is first and foremost a storyteller. So she'll also be writing, handling social media, and making it impossible for you not to want to get more involved!

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