Blind teens learn the Web ropes

When 26 teenagers arrived at the SCORE summer camp on July 1, they had a lot more in store for them than swimming and horseback riding.

The Summer Computer Opportunities in Recreation and Education Teen Camp, sponsored by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and Walter Gretzky, father of former NHL hockey superstar Wayne, has brought together blind, deafblind and visually impaired teenagers from across Canada – plus one from Australia – to receive hands-on training and experience with technology for Web development at IBM Canada’s headquarters in Markham, Ont. The camp’s acitivites wind up this week.

Mentored by IBM employees who themselves are blind or visually impaired, the students were not only given an opportunity to use state of the art software and hardware, but were able to learn more about career choices in IT.

SCORE mentor and IBM employee Rejean Proulx said the participants are likely to open up to the mentors because they encounter similar issues in everyday life. The father of a blind son, Proulx thanked Walter Gretzky for his participation in the program, “from one dad to another…for becoming like a dad to a lot of blind and visually impaired kids.” Gretzky was on hand Thursday to congratulate the camp’s participants.

The camp’s participants also unveiled Web pages that had been designed by the teenagers over the last few weeks on Thursday. Working in teams, they were given opportunities to write HTML coding and train with Microsoft’s Windows 98, Office 2000 and and Internet Explorer 5.0, as well as Netscape Navigator 4.6,. they were also given access to technology such as JAWS for Windows, WindowEyes and ZoomText Extra.

As a SCORE mentor and co-op student for IBM Learning Services Jennison Asuncion has more than a passing interest in the camp: he himself was once a SCORE camper. Asuncion believes that what is experienced at the camp can be carried back to the participants’ homes.

“In high schools now, a lot of them are wired and have access to computers and things,” Asuncion said. “Unfortunately, not all of these teenagers will have access to the computers because they don’t have the correct software that they need, whether it’s screen magnification or software that reads on the screen. Coming to SCORE might be their first opportunity to see that kind of software too. It gives them the opportunity to say, when they go home, ‘hey, I got to use this software. How can I get a hold of it?'”

For more information about the SCORE camp, visit or