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August 22, 2004

Science eases art for deaf students

From: The Nation, Thailand, Thailand - Aug 22, 2004

Published on Aug 22, 2004

Sitting for your portrait the old-fashioned way notoriously requires hours of patience and masses of materials. And the more copies you require, the more time-consuming and costly the process becomes. Thanks to the advanced technology skills of deaf students at Ratchasuda College however, you can now have your portrait created on a tablet personal computer (a PC smaller than a laptop) with as many copies as you like created in an instant. You can even have your portrait saved to a diskette.

Ten students have been selected from 90 deaf students to join the Acer Tablet PC Project - Career for the Deaf, a collaboration between Acer Computers and the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology.

Acer Computers has provided 10 tablet PCs, software applications for drawing and printers, along with a four-week training programme for the College. "In the beginning, the project was aimed at training 30 disabled students. What the company hopes is that at least eight of the students will go on to make a living from the combination of their artistic talents and understanding of the technology," said Nitipat Praweenwongwuthi, marketing manager of Acer Computers.

One of the Ratchasuda College students, Akarat Jongrakwit, 25, said that after spending a few months getting used to the tablet she really enjoyed working on it and it was easier than drawing on paper for example and she didn't have to carry around drawing equipment.

Poj Kumklinwong, 40, a Ratchasuda College freshman who graduated from art school, said that he would like to become a teacher and transfer his knowledge to other deaf students. "I will also collect the pictures I have drawn using the tablet PC to print and sell as a sideline," he added.

Mana Prateeppornsak a computer instructor at Ratchasuda College of Mahidol University said that tablet PC's were ideal for the students' needs and that they were adapting well to them. "Portraits from tablets are an improvement on other media because they erase mistakes instantly without any flaws being left on the work," said Mana, adding that the class was currently in the process of learning how to use the tablets to design future teaching methods. The instructor noted that unfortunately at around Bt69,000, the hardware was prohibitively expensive for any student without sponsorship.

Nitipat of Acer Computers said that the programme had been inspired by a similar project undertaken in Taiwan with disabled students, which had proved very successful, and added that the company would continue to support the project in Thailand, "by suggesting the students create portraits of the guests at the company's annual party. The guests will then be able to donate money to fund the students' tuition fees", he said.

He added that the company expected to continue similar projects in order to make the skills available to more students with disabilities. And that with support from the government, students might be able to buy the tablet PCs at a lower price. Nitipat added that Acer has already talked to Assumption University in regard to developing the project and upgrading the software specifically for the deaf students.

Theeranuch Pusaksrikit


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