On September 15 and 16, we set up a computer lab in Tlaxiaco. This center is of special importance, because this lab is to help children with disabilities. This school is a Centro de Atención Múltiple (CAM). In México these centers try to help children with disabilities by providing better stimulation and special attention to their learning development, and when it’s possible, integrating the children into the regular school system. The children have many different learning disabilities from Down’s syndrome to cognitive disabilities to motor disabilities. The CAMs, according to comments made by many teachers for special education, have a lot of problems with infrastructure, teaching materials, and many other things.
I know about this center because the principal is a colleague of my sister, and told me about her school. They had 4 computers working with a proprietary operating system and some teaching software. I told her about Kids on Computers and Edubuntu and the software on it to help with children’s education. After a long talk about the center and their plans, I decide to support their project with the resources of KoC.
I visited the center on September 15. My sister and mom arrived 6 hours later. The principal’s brother is another computer engineer (like me) and helped me a lot to set up the lab. We worked 10 hours/day to set up the lab. It was really exciting because it was a great way to celebrate the bicentury of our independence. Now, the lab also has internet connection. It’s amazing because they don’t want to teach only their children, they want to teach their parents how to use the computer and the internet. The main goal for this is teaching how obtain information about their children’s disabilities, government programs that can help, and many other things.
The status of the lab is:
- 4 computers using Edubuntu, 2 running standalone and 2 running LTSP (1 server and 1 client, the server support ~8 computers yet).
- 1 computer we didn’t touch it, and is running the other operating system. We did install a remote desktop connection from the Edubuntu computers. The reason was some teachers were afraid of the change. We hope to convert it later.
- They have a Local Area Network working, divided on the network for the standalone and LTSP server and another to the LTSP clients.
They have internet connection, donated by a neighbor that had a son that attended this school and is integrated to the regular secondary school now.
What do they need?
- They need another 4 computers to have 8, because is the biggest class of kids.
- They need accessibility solutions:
- They have a child with visual problems, he is not blind but has weak vision. I want to solve this with the GNOME magnifier software.
- They have 2 brothers that have serious motor problems, because they have problem with their muscles. They have problems with precision movements, and the mouse is really difficult for them to use.
- Another 2 children have problems with the movement of the wrist, may be can be solved with a trackball.
September 16 the children participated in a municipal parade. I can’t describe the feeling I had when hanging out with them. They are so warm, so kind, and are really happy, although they were in the really hot sun, they finished the parade with a smile in their faces. I still feel a lump on my throat when I think about Rocío receiving us with a warm hug, and when I went to help Misael get off the truck and felt his muscles that he can’t control, but with a will to live and the happiness in his eyes, I felt that was really the lesson of life. I’m really happy to help this center.
On October 14, I’ll setup the 4 remaining computers on the lab to complete this stage and make some test with their children to detect another needs.
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