Page last updated at 00:47 GMT, Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Web cafe planned for blind people

Internet café
The centre will aim to boost IT skills among visually-impaired people

Scotland's first ever internet cafe for blind and partially sighted people will open in Glasgow later this year.

It will operate next to a new training centre run by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

The charity will use a £400,000 award from the Big Lottery Fund to build the facilities in Partick.

The RNIB said the training centre would "strive to reduce the staggering 75% unemployment rate experienced by people with sight loss".

The centre, which will open early next year, will be within Glasgow City Council's Centre for Sensory Impaired People.

RNIB's Insight Radio station and transcription service are already based there.

Once operational, the centre will aim to help 35 people a year into work and 45 people retain their jobs following diagnosis of sight loss.

'Skills boost'

John Legg, director of RNIB Scotland, said: "Currently no dedicated centre exists in the west of Scotland where blind and partially sighted job seekers can develop employment skills and access resources to find or retain a job.

"Yet for many blind and partially sighted people, getting their first job is the most important event of their life. Everything else good often rests on that first job."

The internet cafe will be run in partnership with the Royal National Institute of Deaf People in Scotland and is to employ up to four people.

Councillor James Coleman, depute leader of Glasgow City Council, said: "The new centre will help boost the skills and confidence of people who are blind and partially sighted.

"It will also ultimately show the vast majority of employers that people with visual impairment can also be valuable members of the workforce."

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