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Curtin awarded for pioneering vision impaired learning

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12 June 2008

The world’s first program to train vision impaired individuals in Cisco computer networking has been recognised at the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) iAwards in Melbourne.

The AIIA’s Community Merit Award acknowledged Curtin University of Technology’s role in collaborating with Cisco Systems and the Association for the Blind WA in the recent establishment of the Cisco Academy for the Vision Impaired (CAVI).

CAVI was established to develop and deliver teaching units to train vision impaired people in Cisco computer networking and enhance their employment opportunities.

The success of the CAVI network has led to global expansion with additional academies being opened in India, Sri Lanka and the United States, with remote links to the national academy in WA.  More than 100 vision-impaired students are enrolled in the program worldwide.

Iain Murray, from Curtin’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, together with Dr Helen Armstrong from the School of Information Systems provide the teaching, technical and organisational expertise required to implement this unique program.

Mr Murray explained the benefits to not only vision impaired students, but to all those with a disability.

“Students can be located offshore and online, and because it works with the Cisco program, we can make more Curtin units available in the future,” Mr Murray said.

Curtin Computer Science student Kieren Eaton is vision impaired and an enthusiastic user of the Program.

“Cisco provides content that is accessible by the vision impaired.  This is a great improvement.  Previously a teaching unit’s content was not accessible for people like me,” Kieren explained.

“The advantage is that vision impaired users can now compete for jobs in the marketplace and are recognised as being fully qualified at an international level.

“The lessons are live online as audio MP3 content and the instructors are very helpful and aware of the requirements of students.  You can also download the text translations of all the content.”

The iAwards honour the most outstanding information and communications technology (ICT) talent in the nation, recognising innovation excellence across a range of important fields including education, finance, government, media and security.

CAVI are now finalists in the international awards to be held later in 2008.

Contact:  Lisa Mayer, PR Coordinator, Curtin, 08 9266 1930, 0401 103 755

CRICOS provider code: 00301J

Modified: 12 June 2008

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