On 29 November 2016, the Assistive Technology Information Mapping (AT-Info-Map) project team from Southern Afroca Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD) organized an orientation workshop for key staff at the Pudulogong Rehabilitation and Development Trust for the Blind in Mochudi, in the Kgatleng District, just outside Gaborone. During the workshop, the version 1 (V1) of the AT-Info-Map App was presented to the participants for their input in readiness of the V2 expected to be released in February 2017.
The center, which gets 70% of its funding from the Ministry of Education towards subsidizing training and 30% from other donations and fundraising, is a charitable non-profit organization which started in 1982 as an initiative of the Dutch Reformed Church in Botswana.
It currently enrolls up to of 64 students with visual impairment who are provided with ‘Independence Training’, a form of training that is focused on enabling an individual to become confident and not depend on other people for mobility and daily routine activities. The training covers Braille, Word processing, orientation and mobility, activities of daily living, social work services, recreational activities.
As the institution grows, so does the need for ATs related to visual enhancement. That is where the AT-Info-Map App becomes handy. To help the institution search and find the most appropriate and affordable AT that can help the students excel.
“All that we are aware is that most of the AT are imported from abroad, but we currently do not have much information about which suppliers are available and where they exist here. So this app will provide us with more options as an institution. It will open our eyes,” said Themba Sibanda who is Training Coordinator.
Even though the trsut acquires most of its AT in the form of donations, there was a general consensus that with the introduction of the app, the institution will be able to compare between one supplier and another whenever it is a position to purchase itself, and this will help them to chose the supplier with competitive prices.
The participants appreciated the current design of the V1 App, and in terms of improvement, they recommended that the final version should include information about the suppliers’ social media on top of the information about website. They noted that the majority of suppliers – including, for example, Doctors Choice which does not have a website and only relies on its Facebook page – sell their products mostly through social media.