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SLIIT Business School addresses growing needs of visually impaired

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Reiterating its strong culture of research, SLIIT has pioneered the first-ever comprehensive research project to empower persons with visual impairment and blindness in Sri Lanka, showcasing the need to improve their quality of life and highlighting their employability potential.

The research, undertaken by the SLIIT School of Business, was funded by the World Bank– AHEAD Research Project titled ‘Socio-economic Status and Employment Potential of Visually Impaired and Blind Persons in Sri Lanka’.

The research, which comprised both qualitative and quantitative work, was carried outover a period of three and a half years, resulting in over 45 different outputs including local and international journal publications, conference presentations, and a number of dissertations including MPhil,Masters and final year undergraduate research projects.

By undertaking this research project, SLIIT’s primary objective was to address the social, economic and overall well-being of persons with visual impairment and blindness. By understanding their needs and challenges, the project was able to develop strategies and models that could enhance their quality of life.

The study also focused on gathering data regarding the different types of visual impairments and their prevalence and distribution across the identified population. This information will assist in targeting specific areas for intervention and resource allocation.

Professor TheekshanaSuraweera, the Research Team Leader of the project, the founder and Dean, School of Business, stated, “A research project of this magnitude, exploring the socio-economic issues of people with visual impairment and blindness, has not been conducted in Sri Lanka before and that marks a distinct milestone in recent history”

“The passionate support, commitment and dedication of the two research team members, Professor Samantha Thelijjagoda, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research & International) and Professor Ruwan Jayathilaka and Professor Suren Peter, Dean, School of Business, the research manager and other research assistants are worth special mentioning. Furthermore, severalother academics and scholars who themselves are visually impaired and blind made this a unique study.”

Overall, the SLIIT research project on visual impairment and blindness has not only contributed to the academic and research landscape but has also had a positive impact on students, faculty, and external stakeholders.

As an extra initiative, SLIIT also successfully organized a training program in collaboration with the National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA), which involvedtraining of fifty three ICT trainers from all regions of the country. The workshop focused on equipping these trainers with the necessary skills and knowledge to work with individuals who are blind or visually impaired. It is interesting to notethat the principal resource persons of this training of trainers were experts in ICT,who were also visually impaired and blind.

This research project in the long run would facilitate realising the UN Sustainable Development Goalsrelated to reducing “inequality within and among countries by empowering and promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all, including persons with disabilities”. SLIIT Business School will continue to spearhead such pioneering initiatives, in the future as well.

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