Students of the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf (CCCD) now have the benefit of a community access point (CAP), with the provision of Internet and other computer-related services.
The commissioning of the CAP was held at the school’s Cassia Park Road address in Kingston, on Tuesday (October 8). It was developed by the Universal Service Fund (USF) at a cost of approximately $7.6 million.
The centre, which is the 312th to be established across the island, is outfitted with 15 desktop computers, one Internet broadband server and supporting network capability, two multipurpose printers and two air-conditioning units.
The USF also installed solar panels to assist in offsetting the electricity costs of operating the computer centre.
Chief Technical Director of ICT in the Ministry of Technology Wahkeen Murray commended the USF for adhering to its mandate of bridging the gap through the provision of Internet access for all.
Noting that persons with disabilities are more likely to experience adverse socioeconomic outcomes than persons without disabilities, such as less education, poorer health outcomes, lower levels of employment, and higher poverty rates, she said the Government is committed to empowering this community with the necessary skills set and access to resources to improve their economic outcomes.
“What we are doing here today is enabling the disabled and turning impossibilities into possibilities. ICT has the potential to make significant improvements in the lives of persons with disabilities, allowing them to enhance their social, cultural, political and economic integration in communities by enlarging the scope of activities available to them,” Murray said, in her speech on behalf of Minister Fayval Williams.
“As a ministry, we understand the importance of equipping members of the disabled community with access to technology, and we are paying keen attention to this segment of the population,” she added.
For his part, Chief Executive Officer of the USF, Daniel Dawes, said the establishment of the CAP is a small part of the overall investment in a bid to greater connect Jamaica.
“Special effort is consistently made to ensure that as we design our projects, no one is left behind. Our projects are not a success unless both those who are rich and poor, those who live in the city and in rural areas and those who are able-bodied, as well as members of the special needs community, can benefit,” he said.
Dawes encouraged the students and community members to utilise the facility to assist in their academic and business activities.
“We hope this lab will be used to complete some excellent class projects. This computer lab is not just a gateway to the Internet but to a brighter future,” he said.
Meanwhile, Executive Director of the CCCD, Tashi Widmer, expressed her appreciation for the investment, which, she said, represents greater inclusiveness of persons who are deaf and hard of hearing in the society.
“Deaf persons represent one group under the disability sector in general. I appreciate USF considering deaf people as beneficiaries in their ICT programme. I am appealing to the wider community to look at a deaf person as an individual and not just at their disability. Technology is a great resource and support for the deaf community so they can achieve,” she said.
To date, the USF has invested $50 million in projects aimed at assisting the special needs community. Beneficiaries include the University of the West Indies (UWI) Centre for Disability Studies, the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre and the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities.