Getting digital: Thumeka Ntozini is among deaf employees attending a computer course.
Working life has changed for the better for three deaf UCT employees as they are attending a basic computer literacy course offered by the Staff Learning Centre. Dorelle Cornberg, Thumeka Ntozini and Rudolph Priestley are now geared up to make better use of information and communication technology's services such as email and Vula.
Cornberg is a research information assistant at the Development and Alumni Department, while Ntozini and Priestley work with Dr Marion Heap on a research project in the Health and Human Rights Programme in the School of Public Health and Family Medicine. Ntozini and Priestley's daily tasks include interviewing deaf clients, keeping records and assisting clients and interpreters in the health services.
Since they attended their first class on 29 March, the two have grown in confidence with computers, according to Heap. "Technology has opened up a lot of avenues," she said. "For deaf people, computer literacy is important not only for the work that they do, but for general communication and information-gathering purposes."
Heap noted that the participation of the three employees has been made possible by the professional sign language interpreter service, which is funded by the Staff Development Committee. A sign-language interpreter is always present during classes.
The course runs over 13 weeks, twice a year, and targets people with no or very limited computing skills. It covers fundamentals such as how a computer works; creating, storing and formatting documents in MS Word; creating and using simple spreadsheets in MS Excel. Participants also learn about ergonomics and are introduced to touch-typing.
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