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Touchscreen computers and Braille plates bring nanotechnology to disabled learners
Three touchscreen computers featuring nanotechnology information were unveiled at the National Museum in Bloemfontein on 21 February 2014. The aim of the nano touchscreen computers is to show a range of elements which have various uses as nanoparticles and their applications in different fields.
The project was initiated by Tebogo Mohlakane-Mafereka, Managing Director of Untouchable-But-Approachable (UBA) General Trading (Pty) Ltd. To implement the project, the company received a grant from the Nanotechnology Public Engagement Programme (NPEP), which is managed by SAASTA on behalf of the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
Among the special guests in the audience were 22 visitors from the Bartimea School for the Blind and Deaf from Thaba 'Nchu, 10 visitors from Tswellang School for Learners with Physical Disabilities and another 10 from the Association for Persons with Disabilities.
There was a special surprise for the guests from the Bartimea School - Braille plates with information on the basics of nanotechnology, which were installed in the Geology Hall of the National Museum.
Other guests who attended the hand-over of the touchscreen computers and Braille plates included Fhumulani Manda, Deputy Director: Emerging Research Areas, DST; Rick Nuttall, Director of the National Museum; and Mthuthuzeli Zamxaka, Coordinator of NPEP.
Luyanda Noto, a PhD student from the University of the Free State gave a presentation on the general applications of nanotechnology and told the audience how nanotechnology can benefit our country. Mthuthuzeli Zamxaka from SAASTA explained the role of NPEP in making the cutting-edge science of nanotechnology accessible to people, as well as the general role of SAASTA in science and technology advancement. Fhumulani Manda addressed the audience on the role of DST and thanked the National Museum for advancing the vision of the Department.
A teacher from Bartimea School for the Deaf and Blind used sign language to interpret the talks to the disabled learners. Pinky Matshaseng, Principal of Bartimea spoke passionately about the school and appealed to people to be patient with her learners and sensitive to their needs. She thanked the National Museum for involving her school in this prestigious event.
Then it was time for Rick Nuttall, Fhumulani Manda and Mthuthuzeli Zamxaka to cut the ribbon to the Geology Hall to unveil the museum's first touchscreen computer. The teachers of Bartimea and Tswellang unveiled the second touchscreen computer and the Braille plates, and the third touchscreen was unveiled by four learners - two from Bartimea and two from Tswellang.
DST and SAASTA representatives were impressed, and touched, to be able to witness the excitement of two blind learners reading the nanotechnology information from the braille plates for the very first time.