Unión de Minusválidos de Querétaro

After a couple of weeks of Spanish lessons, the PC staff decided that my fellow volunteer Jeffy (that’s her family nickname for Jennifer) and I (Charlie) were advanced enough to not require regular classes.  They felt that we would be better off with a temporary assignment in Querétaro that would allow us to speak with people in a normal setting.  It also freed up one Spanish instructor who could be devoted to other volunteers who needed more attention.

We were asked to work with a local non-profit organization called the Unión de Minusválidos de Querétaro (Querétaro Union of Disabled People, or UMQ, whose one-page Spanish language web site is http://ciegosqueretaro.org.mx/) which provides services and training to adults who are blind or visually impaired.  The groups operates a school not far from the PC office that trains its clients skills that help them get along in daily life — such as food preparation, and reading and writing in Braille – as well as ways to earn a living – such as computer skills and massage therapy.  I got an excellent massage from one of the advanced students, strictly for the purpose of understanding how the organization works, of course.

One of the tasks that UMQ performs is the recording of books and, coming soon, storage of the recordings in a digital format on disks and on a server.  They have already recorded various Spanish language textbooks and literature, as well as the first part of a textbook that teaches English to Spanish speakers.  Their goal is to allow their clients to earn the local equivalent of a GED certificate.

Jeffy and I have been asked to take on three tasks for the UMQ.  First, we are recording the second part of the English language textbook.  It consists of 16 chapters with grammatical explanations, examples, and exercises.  We face some challenges in presenting the exercises because, of course, they are written for sighted students who can respond to instructions such as “complete the phrase below using the verb in parentheses.”  Fortunately, Jeffy spent her career teaching languages and knows how to rephrase the questions.  As of this writing, we’ve completed 12 of the chapters.

Our second assignment seemed complicated.  UMQ, as I mention above, wants to convert its recorded material to a digital format so that it can be used more easily here and shared with other similar organizations in Mexico and elsewhere.  They recently joined an international consortium that has developed a recording format for the blind called DAISY (Digital Access Information System).  They had no idea how to use it, but were hoping that we could translate into Spanish some of the technical requirements that are provided in English on the DAISY website.  Translation is hard enough, but translating linked pages of technical jargon is even more so.

We searched the DAISY website and discovered that there was a member in Colombia that had extensive experience using the system.  We googled his name, discovered that he had a Facebook page, and contacted him in the hope that he might be able to offer technical help to UMQ in Spanish.  When we returned to the school a few days later, we learned that the Colombian had not only contacted UMQ, but had offered them an on-line course on how to use DAISY!

Our final assignment is to help UMQ to find donors who would help them pay for the costs of using DAISY and digitizing their recordings.  UMQ had received funds from the local government to pay the US$4,000 cost of subscribing to the DAISY consortium for the first year, but needs additional support to continue its membership and pay the costs of acquiring the related software and hardware for the system.  Jeffy has contacted some Lions Club she knows in the US to see if they can help, but has not received any reply yet.  If anyone reading this posting has any suggestion, please contact me at this blog or at bendgold@aol.com.

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2 Responses to “Unión de Minusválidos de Querétaro”

  1. Alan Eisen Says:

    Charlie – you might look into Audacity, an Open Source software project for audio editing. While it doesn’t include DAISY output directly, there is another open source tool for the actual DAISY output. One advantage, is that its free software (donations appreciated). Secondly, there’s information on Audacity already in Spanish (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/?lang=es). Generally, I like using Audacity quite a bit for audio editing.

  2. Alan Eisen Says:

    Forgot to give you the DAISY URL: http://daisymfc.svn.sourceforge.net/viewvc/daisymfc/trunk/dmfc/doc/scripts/AudacityToDTB.html

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