Sunday, January 21, 2018

Giving back: Blind UWI grad donates Braille machine to Samuel

Anil Waite

“It's my turn to give back,” says Anil Waithe who has reached out to help 14-year-old visually impaired Samuel Williams, the boy who has become the darling of the nation after the news of his success at the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examination.

Waithe, 29, of Tacarigua has been totally blind since birth.

Last November, the Express had highlighted Waithe's plea to the public to purchase a Braille embosser.

The machine is a type of printer which uses Braille translation software to assist the impaired person by converting the writing to Braille.

Through the kindness shown by others and the funds raised to purchase the machine, Waithe, a post-graduate student at The University of the West Indies, St Augustine was able to secure the equipment and the necessary software.

Now he intends of repaying that kindness and fulfilling the promise to help those who are blind or visually impaired.

Speaking to the Express on Monday, Waithe said he was happy to learn that young Samuel was able to write the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examinations and successfully pass for his school of choice, St Anthony's College.

He was he was proud that someone who is visually impaired is rising above their situation to show the world that they too have what it takes to succeed.

“We are more than just our disability. We too can succeed in life and there is nothing that is stopping us from doing so except the limitations of the State. There isn't the right things put in place in the education system for those who are blind. And the Blind Welfare Association is of no help. They have the machines packed up and we can't get to use it.

So I am here today to help and give back. I believe that he (Samuel) should make the best of all the support coming his way. Collect all those sparkles and use it for your success. You will succeed,” he said.

Waithe has always spoke out against the unfairness of the education system which he said “caters for the sighted.”

He said: “Braille is my language and more needs to be done to help those who are blind in the education system. We all know that when someone blind writes such exams, they are given 'sympathetic places' but here is a boy who passed on his own and now we need to help. I will help him in whatever way I can.”

Waithe has offered to convert the school textbooks Samuel would need for September as well as provide a braille machine he has at home for Samuel's use.

He also said he can give Samuel a scanner and configure a laptop to make it easier for Samuel's use.

He said: “I can give him a scanner and if he has a laptop will make/configure it to be blind friendly. It will come in handy for converting hand outs(paper) into electronic form. Once is text base subjects it is smooth sailing but if is science or maths I have a life jacket for that.”

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh has offered to purchase Samuel's booklist and a new braille machine which will be used at school.

Many Express readers were amazed by the determination and endurance of Samuel and have also pledged their support to Samuel and his family.

Waithe is expected to meet with officials from Deyalsingh's member of parliament office soon to further discuss the “proper” equipment to purchase for Samuel.

Samuel, of San Juan, wants to be a meteorologist when he gets older.

His determination to continue his studies is being fully supported by his family, especially his mother, Alicia Modeste.

St Anthony's College principal Maurice Inniss said both he and his staff will fully support Samuel as he will be the first visually impaired student at the school, and work with the Ministry of Education in providing the necessary help Samuel would need.

Samuel will be honoured on Friday at a function hosted by Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh.

About Anil Waithe

Waithe is currently a post-graduate student at The University of the West Indies, St Augustine.

He obtained a bachelor of science degree in Information Technology in 2012 and is currently pursuing a master's degree in Computer Science at UWI.

Waithe said he has started a computer course for those visually-impaired and utilizes Skype to speak with clients and guide them.

He was the first to have a Windows 8 course for visually-impaired and blind individuals in the Caribbean through the use of voice over IP and virtualization technology. Waithe has also been able to configure an accessible Windows 7 installation and a Client for Use on Facebook.

He also said that he wants to have a cooking class available in order to teach the blind and visually-impaired valuable life skills as a means for them to become more independent.


Acting chief executive officer of the Trinidad and Tobago Blind Welfare Association Lakhan Seepersad said the Association is willing to provide technical support to Samuel as he journeys along his new school.

He said the Association is willing to lend Samuel braille machine for use at school.