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A project by the Commercial Bank of Ceylon to help undergraduates with vision impairment by providing them with specially-designed laptops and software has benefitted another 20 students from four universities.
The latest presentation, which took place at the Kandy Teaching Hospital recently, takes the number of undergraduates that have received such laptops from the Bank to 40.
The Bank said the widescreen laptops have a software program titled ‘Jaws’ installed by the Centre for Sight (CFS) Kandy, which reads out what is being typed on the keyboard, enabling users to correct their mistakes.
The first group of vision-impaired students to receive such laptops from Commercial Bank in 2014 comprised of students from the Ruhuna, Peradeniya, Colombo, Sri Jayewardenepura, Kelaniya and Jaffna universities.
“We have heard that these laptops have removed many barriers to their education,” Commercial Bank’s Managing Director Mr Jegan Durairatnam said. “These students use their laptops for recording lectures, planning out and typing their theses, making presentations and for searching for information.”
Before they received the laptops with Jaws software, students with visual impairmentsmade audio recordings of lectures, listened to them and attempted to take notes. However, ambient noise resulted in indistinct recordings, and their lecture notes were rarely complete. Using the laptops donated by Commercial Bank, they now download recorded lectures, achieving improved clarity and better notes, he explained.
Most of these students used braille to produce their presentations and theses,and read them aloud to friends who were not visually impaired, who then wrote out their assignments for them. They are now able to work independently and have started answering their examinations using the donated laptops.
Besides these laptops, Commercial Bank donates laptops and scholarships to 50 undergraduates every year, under the Bank’s on-going corporate social responsibility agenda. The Bank also funds a nation-wide initiative to improve IT literacy levels among students by donating fully-equipped and furnished IT labs to schools, under which it has to date donated 170 computer labs that are benefitting more than 170,000 students.
The only Sri Lankan bank to be ranked among the Top 1000 banks of the world for five consecutive years, Commercial Bank operates a network of 250 branches and 625 ATMs in Sri Lanka, the largest electronic cash dispensing facility owned by a single bank in the country. The Bank was ranked the most valuable private sector brand in Sri Lanka in 2014 and has also won multiple awards as Sri Lanka’s best bank from a number of international publications over several years. The Bank was adjudged one of Sri Lanka’s 10 best corporate citizens by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in 2013 and 2014.
Image 1 – Some of the undergraduates that received laptops with representatives of Commercial Bank.
Image 2 – Some of the undergraduates at the presentation of laptops by Commercial Bank.