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SAZF and Israeli embassy donate reading device to Wits



For a student who experiences vision loss or any other reading impairment, having access to a device that makes reading easier is a massive gift. So, the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF), together with the Israeli Embassy in South Africa’s donation of an OrCam device to the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) Disability Rights Unit on 25 July was just that, a massive gift.

Through its accurate OCR (optical character recognition) technology, OrCam is an all-in-one solution that empowers students facing reading challenges. Its ability to capture and read aloud printed or digital text from any surface is particularly useful for students, who can control and use the device at their own pace.

It also functions as a magnifier for pictures, handwriting, maths formulas, and text. The device will allow visually impaired students or with reading disabilities to read printed or digital text instantly from any surface.

“We’re excited to be joined by the vice-chancellor’s office, the embassy of Israel, representatives from the university, Intamed [representing OrCam in South Africa], as well as members of the South African Union of Jewish Students, and the Student Representative Council today,” said Benji Shulman, the director of public policy at the SAZF. “We hope this device will help to make learning more inclusive and accessible at Wits.”

Andrew Sam, adaptive technologist at the unit, said the OrCam had been needed for years. “Not only does this donation enrich the life of one student, it sends a powerful message of support and the importance of inclusivity to our entire Wits community.”

Carol Crossley, registrar at Wits, said Wits had one of the largest numbers of disabled students in the country. “For our disabled students, this provides so many opportunities”.

Israeli Ambassador Eli Belotsercovsky said Israel had a strong connection with Wits because the mother of President Isaac Herzog, the late Ora Herzog, had studied mathematics at the university. “We’re so happy this device will help students, and we look forward to strengthening our relationship with Wits,” he said.

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