The Rehabilitation Program
This program is designed to rehabilitate and prepare blind and visually impaired children to integrate into the local community and attend regular mainstream schools.
The program focuses on mobility training and daily living skills, as well as Braille training, both in Arabic and English.
Development programs, such as music, swimming and field trips, are offered by the school to give blind children the chance to experience different activities designed to enhance their social and cultural standards.
Al-Shurooq School receives blind and visually impaired children between the ages of 3 - 14. Since the large majority comes from poverty-stricken remote villages and refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza, the school provides full accommodation and medical care.
The school consists of two stages of rehabilitation:
The Kindergarten stage: Children between the age of 3-6 years are accepted to follow a special program designed to offer educational, social and psychological services. These aim at enhancing the children’s academic and daily living skills.
Preparatory stage: This program is designed for blind children above the age of six who are capable academically to follow the Palestinian national syllabus. This enables them to continue, once integrated, with the same syllabus.
Development programs such as music lesons, swimming lessons and computers are also taught. Computer studies are taught at the age of eight. The use of special software with speech synthesizers both in Arabic and English allow blind children to hear the text and guide themselves through the different programs, including surfing the net.
The Support And Follow-Up Program:
After spending 4-5 years at the Rehabilitation Program, and based on individual assessments, the children gain enough independency and self confidence to enable them to integrate back into their local community, live independently with their families and attend local mainstream schools, therefore enhancing their chances of equal opportunity.
Initially, and through weekly visits to ensure successful integration, the social worker continues to provide support to the children, their families and new teachers. Once the child is properly settled, visits are carried out monthly.
The Society provides blind and visually impaired children with essential aids, tools and appliances needed; such as Braille typewriters (Perkins Braillers), Braille paper, Braille school textbooks, magnifiers, canes and tape recorders.
Also, the Society provides local government schools, into which its blind children integrate, with a Braille-n-Print device. The device transcribes Braille text to English or Arabic text, therefore allowing teachers at regular schools to follow and fairly evaluate the work done by blind children.
The support and follow-up program continues through regular visits to the Society, even after the children get into university.
Braille Book Production Unit:
A computerized Braille book production unit became operable at the Society in 1996. The transformation of books from Arabic and English texts into Braille is carried out by typing the exact text on the computer and a special software converts it to Braille text. With the use of a special Braille printer, the text is printed on a specific type of paper used solely for that purpose. The text is revised and edited before the book is finally covered and bound.
School textbooks go out on loan for a nominal yearly charge, since the purchase of such books is highly expensive.
Braille Book Library:
Upon its establishment in Jerusalem in 1962, the main objective of the Society was to produce books in Arabic and English Braille and to establish a library.
In 1996, the Society opened an additional branch of the library in Beit Jala, to facilitate access to blind people living in the southern districts of the West Bank, unable to enter Jerusalem.
To date, the library holds around 3,000 books printed in Braille, including school textbooks, literature and history books, the Holy Quran, novels and scientific articles both in English and Arabic.
Summer School Program:
A one-month summer school program is held every year to “newly integrated” children as well as to children at the rehabilitation program. The program aims to enhance the children’s abilities and skills in areas of apparent weakness. On an individual basis, children follow an intensive program depending on their essential needs.
Summer school also provides extra-curricular activities, such as handicrafts, field trips and swimming lessons. This enables the children to share experiences, knowledge, develop hobbies and interests and mostly to break up the monotony of summer days.
Child Sponsorship Program:
Sponsoring a blind child would cover his/her expenses at the Society, which include tuition, development activities, full accommodation and medical care.
Continuous education program: As an essential part of its activities, the society carries out workshops for the staff members to enhance and promote their knowledge and experience in dealing with children with special needs.
Social program: The society holds different social programs throughout the year, which aim at enhancing the social standards of the blind and visually impaired.
Computer training program: In addition to training blind and visually impaired children on the use of computers, the Society holds computer training for blind and visually impaired adults, using speech synthesizers in both English and Arabic.
Newsletters and Website:
The Society circulates a quarterly newsletter that aims to inform the readership about the Society’s latest activities and achievements.
The Society has a website that hosts information about the society, its programs and activities. It also contains the quarterly newsletters and a photo album.
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