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UCAA Staff To Raise Shs 150 Million For Learners With Visual Impairment

The Uganda Aeronautical Information Services Officers Association-UGAISOA- have launched a marathon to collect over Shillings 150million to support learners with visual impairment.   Dubbed the “2022 Aviation Run”, the marathon will take place on May 29 at Entebbe Mayor’s Garden. The marathon first took place in 2019 as an annual event to help the needy in and around Entebbe municipality. Participants run 5 kilometres and 10 kilometres.

Moses Obbi, the President of UGAISOA, says that they need to raise over Shillings 150million to support and keep 3,000 visually impaired learners in school for a year. Those willing to register for the marathon are registering online on www.aviationrun.org while corporation can make financial donations through the association account.

The association with 87 members has sent out scouts to identify the neediest of such learners within Entebbe and surrounding areas. The Association members and the public are encouraged to register at Shillings 25,000 and Shillings 50,000 to get a marathon vest or branded t-shirt respectively.  Corporations donating to the cause are categorized in Platinum (30 million), Gold (UGX 20 Million), Silver (UGX10million) and Bronze (UGX5million).

Obbi says the association was compelled to help because the lockdown online schooling technology was not inclusive enough to accommodate visually impaired learners.

An article by The Independent dated August 21, 2021, noted that several persons with visual impairment missed out during the lockdown because they did not have access to digital tools. These tools include talking book players and computers or laptops with Job Access with Speech (JAW), a screen reader that provides both braille and text-to-speech input.   The article quoted Charles Byekwaso, the Executive Director of Uganda National Association of the Blind (UNAB), who said that installing the JAW software costs over shillings 3.5 million, which many learners and schools cannot afford.

Obbi says the association hopes to purchase slates and stylus, education sets for the blind, White canes, Braille machines, and balls for sports and kneecaps for athletes.

He adds that part of the proceeds will help sensitize the general public and policy makers through media about the gaps in the education response plan to COVID-19 on children with visual impairment and and campaign for quick amendment of the plan to include learners with visual impairment.

The association has in the past 8 years largely focused on providing health related items to the needy communities and institutions such as Entebbe Regional Referral Hospital that got theatre and maternity equipment in 2019.

Fred Bamwesigye, the Director General at Uganda Civil Aviation Authority-UCAA lauds the association with support from the authority for empowering communities around Entebbe international Airport through such initiatives over the years.   In his statement on www.aviationrun.org, Bamwesigye said, “as we celebrate 30 years of UCAA, involving the aviation industry into community empowerment is a noble deed by any aviator.”

Adding “Knowledge is got from any experience but nurtured through education. Be part of this transformation drive as we fundraise to promote inclusive education for persons with visual impairment in Uganda.”

Modesta Tezikyabbiri, the Speaker of Entebbe Municipal Council, says that the initiative is timely because learners are preparing to return for second term. “I know over 30 learners with visual impairment in Entebbe and neighboring Katabi Town Council who can benefit from this initiative,” she said.

Tezikyabbiri, who is an advocate for Persons with Disabilities and has a foundation that supports the physically disabled, says the aviators have done a commendable job. “The learning materials are expensive,” she adds by citing prices of some items.  A braille machine costs about shillings 3.8 million, a carton of braille papers (1,000 papers) costs shillings 260,000, each slate costs shillings 50,000 and a stylus costs shillings 10,000.

About UGAISOA

The association is a professional body which has existed for over 17 years and unites all Aeronautical Information Management professionals all over the country.

It provides a platform for knowledge enhancement through research and development within the aviation industry to promote safety through quality data communication published in form of Aeronautical information publications, Notice to Airmen, Aeronautical information circulars and Flight plan. The officers avail information concerning Uganda’s airspace such as routes, airspace flight level restrictions, weather information to pilots, planned flight departures and arrivals.

-URN

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