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13 november - International day of the blinds
The best thing we can do for blind people is to help them to get connected with the world.

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Culture 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 NGOs.

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.

In 2013, 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.

Valemtin Hauy is a famous French pedagogue, benefactor and innovator of XVIII-XIX centuries. He is one of the first tiflopedagogues. He has set up the first schools for the blind. He is the author of an alphabet with elevated letters for the blind. He is Louis Braille's predecessor.