House of Armenian Society of Blinds under the auspices of the First Lady of Republic of Armenia Rita Sargsyan is
being successfully reconstructed
In Soviet times there was a fully functional Culture House in Yerevan.
It was funded by the Armenian Society of Blinds (ASB) which would generate its
resources through activities of blind and vision impaired people. The ASB was
even capable to finance construction of such health care facilities as
Republican Ophthalmological Center «Eye clinic after V.S. Malayan”,
ophthalmological clinic of Yerevan Hospital #8, etc. After the collapse of the
USSR the entire system of ASB collapsed as well, because financial resources
were generated through cooperation among Soviet Republics and the goods
produced by ASB was utilized outside of Armenia. The ASB was left with the only
opportunity – to provide the premises for rental. E.g., a part of its premises
were rented by a bakery, another part – by some applied technologies, etc.
hence the building was either idle or rented and the overall situation was sad
and even desperate.
Changes started when the
International Telecommunication Union (ITU) allocated 100,000 USD to creation
of an internet center for blind and vision impaired persons. In November 2011,
as a joint project of ITU and UNESCO Institute of Information Technologies in
Education, the internet center was opened in Yerevan. The main goal of the project was to support the inclusiveness policies
and with the help of information-communication technologies establish an
accessible informational-educational environment for people with vision
impairments. The center was opened within a framework of the Internet for
Blinds project implemented by Ministry of Transport of Armenia, Haypost csc.,
UNESCO and Internet Society of Armenia. The latter provides continuous
operational support to the center.
On November 21 of 2011, opening ceremony of the Internet Center took
place, with participation of representatives of various ministries,
international organizations, including Deputy Secretary General of ITU Khoulin
Chjaho, Head of the ITU Regional Office of FSU countries Orozobek Kayhikov,
Director of Moscow Office of UNESCO Dendev Badarch, Secretary General of
National Commission of Armenia in UNESCO Vahram Kajoyan, Minister of Transport
and Communication of Armenia Manuk Vardanyan, Deputy Minister of Labor and
Social Affairs Jemma Baghdasaryan. There were also media representatives and
On November 22 and 23 of 2011, a seminar
was conducted at the internet center, using the methodology and technical
opportunities of information-communication technologies for education and
social rehabilitation of vision impaired people. 20 specialists participated in
the seminar, among them – representatives of schools for children with special
needs, schools of inclusive education and IT companies.
On 18-21 June of 2012, at the internet
center a series of seminars on how to use information-communication
technologies in educational processes of disabled people took place.
The first seminar of 18-19 June was a
general overview of using those technologies in educational processes of
disabled people. It was conducted by Natalya Kozireva, specialist of UNESCO
Institute of International Technologies in Education (Moscow), and terry
Waller, independent expert from Great Britain.
The second seminar of 20-21 June was devoted to
using information-communication technologies in education of blind people in
particular. It was conducted by Anatoliy Popko, Head of Department of Youth of
Cultural and Sporting Rehabilitation Center of Russian Union of Blinds.
The seminars were under the auspices of UNICEF and
UNESCO and greatly benefited the audience comprised of representatives of
various educational institutions of Armenia.
Unfortunately, the venue and premises appeared to be
not convenient hence, currently the issue of relocation to the House of Culture
of Union of Blinds of Armenia is on the agenda.
the Internet Society of Armenia received a grant from International Internet
Society for creating a second Internet center for people with vision impairment
in the Culture House of the Armenian Society of Blinds. In
parallel, the Armenian Internet Society and administration of the Culture House
developed a concept of transformation of Culture House into a rehabilitation
center for people with visual impairments. Three main directions of
rehabilitation were envisaged: sporting-recreational, cultural and information.
The grant was successfully completed.
The opening ceremony of the center took place in
April 2013. At the end of May 2013, the center was attended by the First
Lady of Armenia Mrs. Rita Sargsyan. In September
2013, Mrs. Sargsyan invited the President of Armenians of Russian Federation
Mr. Ara Abrahamyan to visit the center. He got acquainted with the situation
and pledged to support with full reconstruction of the entire building and
turning it into a contemporary rehabilitation center.