Through digital skills training, ‘Oralkhan Bokeev’ City Library of Ust-Kamenogorsk in Kazakhstan is helping young people living with disability to become more active, confident and independent as they face the challenges of integrating into society as equals.
The initiative, titled ‘Equal Society - Equal Opportunities - Independence in Action’, has been designed for people with disability who are aged under 21. The majority of the library’s trainees are people with neuro-psychological disability and cerebral palsy. They are members of the library’s main partner, Altyn-Ai, an organization that promotes the social, legal and economic rights and freedoms of people living with disability, and provides out-patient hospital care for those who need it.
“We want our young learners to see how learning digital skills that are essential in today’s workplace and everyday life can also help them overcome apathy and negative feelings about themselves. Our digital skills training encourages self-expression and creativity, helping our learners to become happier, more satisfied and interested in life,” said Assel Omarova, a librarian who facilitates training sessions.
TRAINING TO MEET LEARNERS’ PERSONAL NEEDS
The librarians developed a training programme focused on the personal needs and interests of their young learners. Digital skills include the full range of Windows programmes, including Microsoft Office, art editors like Paint, and online skills, like internet security, communicating with email, social networks and communications services provided by global and regional technology companies.
“Thanks to these courses, I found my friends on social networks.” - Roma Baidukov, a trainee who is now a social media user.
The trainers are librarians, and all training takes place in the library’s computer lab, on desktop computers. Training methods are active and interactive. Learners roleplay and address real-life situations while learning digital skills. For example -
A shopping roleplay is used to teach Excel. In an imaginary store, learners take on different roles - a seller, a buyer, a storekeeper and an accountant. They create and fill in spreadsheets for budgets, sales, income and expenses, and formulas to calculate profit and loss.
Vladimir and Roman, who are interested in motorbikes, inspired a training session on online maps and legal issues related to vehicle ownership. Learning involved researching the internet to learn more about the history and production of motorbikes. Using Google Maps participants planned routes to different destinations in the city. They also learnt how to register a vehicle online through the e-government portal, how to pay vehicle taxes, and how to shop online for motorbike accessories. Together, they downloaded images of different motorbike models, and made a video using an online video editor.
"I love motorcycles and now I understand their brands and even made a short online video about my favorite bike models." - Sasha Gerasimov, an enthusiastic trainee.
During the summer holidays, participants in the training developed their plans for the future. Back at the library after the holidays, they learnt how to create PowerPoint presentations and videos about their plans, and to present them to others.
“Most of all, I like to create presentations using Microsoft PowerPoint on the themes of landscape and my achievements, where I can put my photos and add musical accompaniment.” - Zhenya Deryabin.
To date, the library has held 21 classes for 19 young people (12 boys and seven girls) from Altyn-Ai.
At the end of each training session, the library uses games to test learners’ knowledge. Results show that the learners have excellent understanding of digital technology and practical skills in using different kinds of software; they can navigate the internet and use official portals.
“The atmosphere in class is always cheerful, and personal plans that the learners developed in summer show that their attitudes to the world and the people around them is positive. The way they used visuals in their bright and lively future plans tells me that the course is helping them with both self-expression and to reach their creative potential,” said Assel Omarova.