- Title: WEST BANK: Blind Palestinians design chat website for visually impaired
- Date: 27th March 2009
- Summary: CLOSE OF GRAPHIC ON WEBSITE READING (in Arabic): "Don't say I am disabled, click here" JAWAHIRI SITTING AND CHECKING THE WEBSITE CLOSE OF SCREEN SHOWING THE WEBSITE WHICH HAS FORUM WHERE PEOPLE CAN CHAT TOGETHER
- Embargoed: 11th April 2009 13:00
- Topics: Health,Science / Technology
- Reuters ID: LVAYIB02KOGUCJNU24JKGWZ67LY
- Story Text: A blind Palestinian student has created a forum website aimed at gathering fellow blind countrymen at a site where they can share their thoughts with each other.
At his home town of Jenin in the West Bank, Mustafa Jawahiri, says blind people can use his website to chat, post messages and search for information, just like anybody else.
"'Together we smile' is a slogan that we have taken from the sour reality that the blind Palestinian is living in. What we try to do through this website is put the spotlight on this important but marginalised Palestinian group," the 22-year-old said.
Jawahiri says software that helps blind people by reading the text written on a web page are already available but extremely costly.
But he says many are using the software that is already installed on most computers at Palestinian universities to post messages on the forum and listen to a computerised voice that reads the written contents of every page.
"Sometimes it's hard for a normal person to surf the internet, but it's harder for a blind person. It doesn't depend on experience, but a blind person needs special voice programmes to help him get into the world of the internet and these programmes can reach around 2,000 dollars per programme.
Now the blind person can go into a forum using computers in Palestinian university labs," he added.
Jawahiri uses a word processor programme that relays back the words he types so he can ensure that he types in everything correctly before uploading the text to the website.
The idea for the website was put together when disabled Palestinian students from several universities got together and decided to establish a forum for blind Palestinians at home or abroad, who would be able to meet at the site and contribute to discussions despite their disability.
Jawahiri, who is studying music and arts at al-Najah university, is also a radio presenter at Zain, a local radio station.
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