Oportunidades tecnológicas para niños con problemas visuales
Technological Opportunities for Visually
Impaired Children By Graciela Muñiz

Por Graciela M. Muñiz
Translated by Rebecca Carrero Figueroa
UPRM Press

Friday July 10, 2009                           [ versión en español ]

Michael Rivera, niño albino, quien a sus seis años se le declaró ciego legal, participó de la actividad.
Michael Rivera an albino boy, who at his six years was declared legally blind, participated in the activity.
With the purpose of wrapping up community work with technology, Lockheed Martin supported the initiative of the Mayagüez Campus to offer students with some kind of visual disability the opportunity of entering the world of computers through video games.

According to Mauricio Guadamuz, Lockheed Martin’s Human Resources Manager, this will also stimulate their interest in pursuing careers in science, math, and technology. “The purpose is to show people with disabilities that these are not physical handicaps... We want them to dream as we do in the world of computers, in the world of technology, to become involved in science and mathematics, so they may dream as I did and as thousands of engineers who are part of Lockheed Martin did too.”

Precisely, José Manuel Álvarez, better known as Manolo, who created these video games and who also is blind, made sure that they were designed with the intention of offering more learning options for blind persons and people with severe visual problems.

“These are video games that have a design that is known as universal design, where they have graphics so anyone can use them. They have an auditory response and some of them interconnect with Braille technology because we are looking that the strengths of blind children, which are hearing and sense of touch, are present in the technology so they can play.” 

He also emphasized that among the available games, are those of “cards which are very simple recreational games; one of baseball, where they will use a bat to interact with the game; racing car games... We have different games in different categories that can be fun and, at the same time, children learn some skills while interacting with the computer.” 

For his part, Ramón Vásquez, Dean of Engineering at UPRM, mentioned that this kind of event comes as part of the mission that Colegio has with the community service.  “Some of them do not see, but can have the vision of what they can do in the future. This is a different activity, that fulfills the mission of our Institution that in addition to promoting the academics and research, we also support community service, and I consider that this is one of the first companies that is dedicated to help in the third part of that vision.” 

For Miriam Lugo Álvarez, mother of Michael Rivera, an albino boy, who was declared legally blind when he was six years old, these kind of activities offer the opportunity of knowing more about the technological options that exist for blind persons as her son. “We have been oriented through these years for his conditions and have a technological evaluation pending for him, to see which technological assistance will help in his academic progress. However, this is the first activity that we assist... we are so close to this product that it brought my attention.” 

On the other hand, Lugo noted that despite his health conditions, her son has never set restrictions to himself or stop dreaming big. “Michael has all the aspirations. Every time that he watches a new program or new profession, that’s the one that he wants to do. He wants to become an Astronaut, ride cars... a while ago he told me that he wants to go to the center of the Earth... so he has all of them.”

It is expected that these kind of activities may help both children and their parents to consider other options and to see that technology can help them to obtain better educational and employment opportunities in the future.

Vídeo Reportaje

Verifique que su navegador pueda ejecutar javascript y que tenga la versión más reciente de Adobe Flash Player. Descargue la versión más reciente de Flash Player

El creador de estos vídeo juegos como opción de aprendizaje a invidentes y personas con problemas visuales severos es José Manuel Álvarez (Manolo).
The creator of these video games as an educational option for blind persons and people with severe visual problems is José Manuel Álvarez (Manolo).

La iniciativa consiste en ofrecerle a los estudiantes con algún tipo de impedimento visual la oportunidad de entrar al mundo de las computadoras a través de vídeo juegos.
The initiative is to provide students with some kind of visual disability the opportunity to enter the world of computers through these video games.

Con este tipo de alternativas se espera que los usuarios perciban que la tecnología les puede ayudar a tener mejores oportunidades educativas y laborales en el futuro.
With these alternatives it is expected that users perceive that technology can help them to obtain better educational and employment opportunities in the future.

Photos: Carlos Díaz / UPRM Press