Project information

‘Talking Textbooks’ for blind students Ethiopia

At present visually impaired children across Tigray province are not able to access education on a par with their sighted peers. SENEthiopia aims to help blind students access the curriculum by creating and distributing audio textbooks for all secondary students in Tigray.

1 year

Charity information


Senethiopia logo
  • Need


    Although some secondary students In Tigray know braille, there are very few braille textbooks in schools and most often only in a scattered variety of subjects. Braille textbooks in Ethiopia are expensive to produce, bulky to use in class and cumbersome to carry home each day.

    It is possible to access textbooks on the computer using the software JAWS. This is being trailled by SENTigray in conjunction with the Regional Education Bureau. But there are very few computers available.


    Audio textbooks on MP3 format using headphones with memory cards and/or radios with USB is a very accessible alternative for providing textbooks in all subjects for each visually impaired student, at very reasonable costs.

    Our trials of audio grade 9 biology, civics and geography textbooks in November 2014 and February 2015 demonstrated how accessible and appealing to students is the MP3 – headphone and/or radio package.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To record, duplicate and distribute new English medium, textbooks for 150 blind students in Makelle.


    » a. In England through SENEthiopia: record textbooks using volunteer readers and sound engineers in MP3 format and send to Ethiopia.
    » b.In Mekelle through SENTigray identify students, copy audio textbooks, purchase headphones and/or radios with USB and distribute to beneficiaries.
    » c.Prepare and deliver a training and support package for beneficiaries and their teachers in main stream schools.
    » d. Develop and implement an on-going monitoring and assessment programme for evaluating all aspects of the project.

    All supported by this project known to the Regional Education Bureau across Makelle will have access to text books in a suitable format.

  • Impact


    Because blind students have fuller access to the curriculum teachers and schools feel more confident about being able to support blind and partially sighted children, thus increasing the participation of visually impaired children in education.What is learned here is to be applied to the provision of audio textbooks for visually impaired secondary school students in grades 9-12 throughout Tigray. There are also plans to prepare audio textbooks in the vernacular for primary grades 5-8.


    Delays are possible in the process of resourcing listening devices through local tendering and purchase. We need to plan accordingly. Loss and damage of headphones/radios and flashsticks/ memory cards is likely. Our budget must reflect the need for replacements.


    The results of annual Enrollment and drop out data of the Regional Education Bureau in Mekelle. In the UK SENEhiopia produces a regular newsletter detailing on-going work within SENEthiopia and SENTigray. SENEthiopia/SENTigray has a frequently updated website and a Facebook page.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £13,500

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £1,000 admin & training Office expenses and teacher training
      £7,500 MP3 players purchase of MP3 players for audio books
      £5,000 resource manager annual salary for a local resource manager
  • Background


    Tigray Province, Northern Ethiopia, is a region that has for years been highly dependent on outside aid. The talent and enthusiasm exists locally to make huge changes to the lives of some of the most vulnerable children. The focus of this pilot project is the regional capital town of Mekelle, but the programme is to expand into all of Tigray.


    a. Blind children in Makelle, Northern Ethiopia .
    b. The emotional and economic effect to their families
    c. Positive impact across other schools
    d. Improving the perception and integration of blind children into the community.
    e. Improved liaison and common-working with other local charities (for example Operation Rescue Ethiopia).

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    When Ian Draper, SENEthiopia’s Founder, first visited the school it was a bleak, soundless place which brought many early visitors to tears. There were 160 children, often hundreds of kilometres from home, ranging in age from 5 to 18 living in desperate conditions. SENEthiopia started with a small group of supporters raising money to improve the children’s lives. Over the years SENEthiopia has been able to contribute a kitchen, shower block, games, and other learning resources.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Dr Gary Knamiller

    (VSO Ethiopia 2003-6, lecturer in education University of Leeds – retired) Gary is a volunteer who has been coordinating the audio text book project

    Masho Kidemariam

    Masho is the director of SEN Tigray and he will take all responsibility for managing the project in Ethiopia.

    Steve Amos,

    Sound engineer, Ilkley Talking Newspapers. Retired mathematics teacher and deputy head at a large high school in Bradford.

    Dr Helen Papworth

    Reader. VSO Ethiopia 2004-6. Editor of the Ethiopian Civics textbooks grades 9-12. PhD in African Children’s Literature.