Breakthroughs in the field of information and communications technology (ICT) have definitely changed the way we live.  We can communicate instantaneously with our loved ones who live abroad, study or work from the comforts of our home, do business with anyone from any part of the world, shop or pay bills online, and connect to anyone via social networking, among others.  But for some people, the impact of ICT in their lives is life-changing.

A case in point is Rhea Althea Guntalilib who suffered from a rare retinal disease that led to her blindness.

“Eighteen years old pa lang ako noon.  Sinusubukan ko pa lang buuin ang buhay ko; inaabot ang mga pangarap ko. Then in a flash, pakiramdam ko biglang binawi lahat sa akin (I was just 18 then.  I was just starting to build my life and chase my dreams. Then in a flash, I felt everything was snatched away from me)”, Guntalilib shared in the recently held Juan Konek Launch organized by the Department of Science and Technology-Information Communications Technology Office (DOST-ICT Office) in Pulilan, Bulacan.

But through her family’s support, she was able to connect to various organizations for the visually impaired to help her to continue chasing her dreams and building her life.

The turning point of her life was when she came across ATRIEV (Adaptive Technology for Rehabilitation, Integration, and Empowerment of the Visually Impaired), a computer school for the blind based in Quezon City.  The school uses software applications such as screen reader to allow the blind to use the computer.

“Dahil sa ICT natuto po ulit akong mangarap, at di naman po ako nabigo (Because of ICT, I learned to dream again, and I did not fail)”, she said.  

She was later granted a full scholarship at the Informatics International College and graduated with flying colors.  Since 2012, she has been working in Smart Communications as a software development analyst.

“It (technology) gave me back the hope and self confidence that I lost when I lost my sight.  In a way, this reconnected me to the world.”

She faced another challenge when recently, her trusted household help did not return from a supposed vacation.  As she works in the city and her family stays in the province, she was worried that she may have to quit her job.  It is a good thing that Smart allowed her to work from home until such time she finds another household help.  ICT saved her once again.

Guntalilib believes that technology will help end discrimination completely.  “Since we already have the means to bridge the gap, we can better assert and exercise our right to education and our right to equal opportunity,”`she explained. (By Ma. Luisa S. Lumioan, S&T Media Service)

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BREAKING BARRIERS OF BLINDNESS |  ICT has helped Rhea Althea Guntalilib reconnect to the world after she lost her eyesight because of a rare retinal disease.  She currently works as a software development analyst in Smart.

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