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Educating young people who are blind or vision impaired

“Ask me anything!” CAM team learn more about their new work experience member Mustafa in Q&A

The CAM team were pleased to introduce and welcome a new member to their team, Mustafa, a full-time A-level student at New College Worcester who will be joining CAM for weekly work experience.

Getting to know your new work colleagues is an essential activity in any new position, but is not made simple when working remotely during COVID. Mustafa instructed the CAM team – “Ask me anything!” and here’s what the team wanted to learn more about…

Meet Mustafa

My name is Mustafa and I am 16 years old. I am currently in year 12 and am doing A-levels in the hope of one day going to university and becoming either an author of children’s books or a stand-up comedian. I assure you that those jobs are more similar then they sound! Apart from being funny and writing books for children, my interests include football (the only sport) and reading. I also enjoy listening to music.

One of the things that I think people should know about me is that I am blind. I am telling you this to showcase that being blind does not mean that work cannot be done to the same standard as anyone else. Although being blind does have its challenges; I find that a challenge always has a workaround.

Many mainstream technologies are now perfectly accessible. Add to that    equipment specifically made for blind people, and work becomes very ‘do-able’ for any blind person. I myself use a BrailleNote (a Braille tablet) and an iPhone. I find that currently this is the best setup for my needs. However the best thing about technology is that there are lots of different ways of working, meaning that blind people can be just as flexible as their sighted colleagues.

Here are some of the questions that I received from the staff at CAM:

Q: Were you born blind or is it something that has occurred since birth?

A: I have been blind since birth.

Q: Can you see anything at all?

A: I can see light and colour on a good day.

Q: What are the most common difficulties you come across in accessing or consuming content on websites?

A: On websites popups can be very difficult to deal with and a bunch of ads in the middle of an article also never helps.

Q: What do you do about things like CAPTCHA that are intended to improve security but presumably problematic to someone visually impaired?

A: Most of the time when you click on a CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) an audio challenges comes up. When this does not happen however the only option is to get someone sighted to do it for you. CAPTCHAs, although, needed are the evil in my life.

Q: In general, is the accessibility of apps, desktop applications and websites improving or getting worse?

A: I do not use computers but apps I can talk about. Many apps are accessible and developer such as Apple make sure that all the native apps which come pre-installed on your phone are accessible. Due to the way that Apple talk to app developers and supply them with the tools to make their apps accessible many are, however some apps still aren’t accessible. I believe that apps and applications in general are becoming more accessible due to awareness of disability in wider society.

Q: In terms of technology, are there any particular gadgets that are of most help to you?

A: My iPhone is the love of my life. Thanks to apps I can read printed texts and do lots of other things which are useful in day to day life. These include: detecting colours, scanning bar codes and even taking pictures.

Q: Considering how far technology has come, is Braille still the best way for a blind person to read?

A: Technology has advanced a lot, now computers can read virtually anything out using text to speech. Braille however is still very useful because it is far quicker to edit using braille, at least in my opinion. I also think braille is useful in day to day life as some medication has braille on it.

Q: Which comedians inspire you and why?

A: Comedians that have inspired me most are Jack Whitehall because he is very clever with his comedy. I also like Ricky Gervais due to his making you think something and then completely changing your expectations. Other comedians I like include: Romesh Ranganathan and Greg Davies.

Q:  Do you have a favourite opening gag for your stand-up routine?

A: I usually talk about how people are completely different when talking on the phone vs real life.

Q: What’s the most interesting place you’ve performed stand-up?

A: I have not performed very much. The most difficult however is family because I am never sure if what I say will make them laugh. It is often said that family is the most difficult to impress.

Q: Who is your favourite children’s author?

A: My favourite children’s author is Michael Rosen. My favourite author for slightly older children and teenagers is Jonathan Stroud.

Q: Have you already written any children’s stories or do you have a plot in plan?

A: I have written lots of short stories and what can, in my humble opinion be considered a book. I am currently working on a book series and have just finished plotting the story.

Q: What song do you most associate with your childhood and why?

A: I associate the song ‘Whistle’ by Flo Rida because I heard it most days on the radio when coming back from school. I also remember singing it as a child, not knowing what any of the lyrics meant.

Q: What makes a budding author/comedian want to do work experience with a software development company?

A: A great question to end on I think. I am interested in learning new skills and putting my own skills to the test.

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