Ubuntu is a word of African origin meaning „I am because you are because we are“. Led by such a spirit of togetherness, Intercultural Navigators from Bosnia and Herzegovina have created „Reading for Ubuntu“, the first web platform that enables blind and visually impaired students in Bosnia and Herzegovina to access various literary works and textbooks in audio format. The platform is open to the public, it allows anyone who wishes to record an audio version of a chapter or a poem can simply upload the sound file on the website. This way, blind and visually impaired students can have access to literature which is crucial for their further education.
BiH Intercultural Navigator and the creator of this website, Feđa Kulenović conducted this project in collaboration with the Union of the Blind of BiH, and promotion of the platform is planned in all parts of BiH. „We aim to fill the ever-growing information gap and provide equal access to information for the blind and visually-impaired“, stated Kulenović.
Feđa said that he came up with the idea when he was a student at the Faculty of Philosophy in Sarajevo. „I had promised Amna, my visually impaired friend, that I would help her with her studies and read aloud to her. Unfortunately, I was unable to help her then, but this project is my attempt to make amends.“
Amna Hrvat, is now President of the Association of Blind People of Canton Sarajevo, and she is delighted that blind and visually impaired people across Bosnia and Herzegovina will be able to benefit from this project. With the help of her mother, who had read aloud to her, she successfully attained her university degree, and is currently working on a second one, namely English Language Teaching.
“This an enormous step forward for the blind and visually impaired in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I hope the following generations of students will not be as dependent on their friends and relatives as I was, and that the entire community will contribute to facilitating the learning process for the blind and visually impaired, through this project. I am very happy to see that this problem was identified, and is being dealt with, especially by those whose vision is not impaired.”, said Amna.
The project was made possible also by devoted voluntary contribution of Java Development Group in BiH who provided technical support and expertise and brought the site to life. The site will continue to be administered by a visually impaired student of Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Sarajevo.
The platform was successfully launched on November 11, 2010, in British Council BiH premises. HMA to Bosnia and Herzegovina Michael Tatham, launched the web platform, by reading “This is Just to Say”, a short poem by William Carlos Williams, thus becoming the first reader for Ubuntu.
Fedja Kulenovic, project leader, UK Ambassador in BiH Michael Tatham and Amna Hrvat, President of the Association of Blind and Visually Impaired of Canton Sarajevo
“I am very honoured indeed to open the first web platform of this type in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I echo everything that Miss Hrvat said. From my own experience working with the blind and visually impaired people, I know how vital and beneficial technology is in helping these matters. This website is an important benefit because it allows the entire community to help. I wholeheartedly support this project. It is a kind of project that makes me optimistic.”, stated the Ambassador.
The story of the project attracted massive local media coverage, spread fast and well beyond country borders. It is now featured on an Italian website, and we would not be surprised if it spread even further. You can read the featured story here.
You can explore the “Reading for Ubuntu” platform and even record your own contributions at www.citanje.org