Khaling, Trashigang: 25 November 2004 -
When visually impaired students of the
National Institute for the Disabled in Khaling use Braille to
type and read books, Kuenga Chhoegyel writes on a computer
which also reads to him books and novels.
An English language
teacher at the institute, Kuenga Chhoegyel, 38, from Yurung,
Pemagatshel is the first visually impaired Bhutanese who can
operate a computer.
Chhoegyel on his computer
He uses Microsoft word and excel computer programmes, chats
on-line, browses web sites, and zaps off e-mails. He even
refers to encyclopedias which he has saved in three compact
discs and installed in his computer.
Kuenga Chhoegyel is able to do all that with the help of
the software called the Job Access With Speech (JAWS) designed
for the visually impaired which converts text on a computer
screen to a synthesised voice.
“It reads every alphabet and sentence that I type into the
computer and also checks spelling and grammar,” said Kuenga
Chhoegyel. “The quality of my work has become finer. When I’m
bored I can sit back and have the computer read me on-line
stories and my mails.”
He spends two to three hours everyday at home with the
computer he bought from Bangkok where he was on training.
The English teacher said that it was tedious to read
stories and novels in Braille, which consists of patterns of
raised dots that are read by touch.
“Half of our institute’s library is filled with
encyclopedias in Braille,” said Kuenga Chhoegyel. “Now they
are just a touch away from the computer.”
Kuenga Chhoegyel said that, even as a student he was
fascinated by computers and the wonders they could do. When
friends told him about the e-mails that could be sent overseas
within seconds and books that could be read on-line, his
“I used to dream how interesting my life would be if I
could write, read, learn and communicate through a computer,”
said Kuenga Chhoegyel.
His interest in learning computers took him to other
countries on short term training courses in computers for the
visually impaired. Despite all the training, he could not get
his hands on a computer until 2002 when one of the teachers of
the institution returning from his training brought him the
“The trainings I went for were all on basics and they
weren’t practical,” Kuenga Chhoegyel said. “But with the
software I was able to do everything a normal person could on
a computer within few days, except design web sites.”
“There is a misconception that a special kind of computer
is required for the blind,” said Kuenga Chhoegyel. “An
ordinary computer with a sound box is good enough. All we need
to do then is to have the JAWS software installed.”
Kuenga Chhoegyel has spent all his life at the institute in
Khaling. He and two other friends were the first batch of
students to join the institute in 1973. Then he was six. He
lost his mother at three and was raised by his father who is
Today Kuenga Chhoegyel is a father of a 14-year old son and
an 11-year old daughter both with normal vision.
The English language teacher has set himself a target in
life. He wants to teach every visually impaired person in the
country to use computers starting from his students at the
institute to his colleagues working in other parts of the
But to do that the institute will need more computers. It
only has four at the moment.
By Samten Wangchuk in Khaling,