Computers and the Internet have made a big difference in the lives of people who have handicapping conditions.
For the hearing impaired, the Internet has enabled them to deal more effectively with and overcome the barriers which are prevalent in a world dominated by sounds.
"Previously we've always had to rely on hearing people's help when making a telephone call or communicating verbally with others," said Fakhrul Azman, 32, a supervisor and sign language instructor for hearing people at the Kuala Lumpur Society for the Deaf. "Now, through email and the Internet, we are able to get our message across to a wider group of people and also have live discussions via various chat programs. The Internet also helps me pursue my interests more keenly by being able to retrieve information on my own," said Azman who accesses the Net at least twice weekly at a local cybercafe.
"Who knows, as I am still a bachelor, I may just find Miss Right on the Internet very soon," jokes Azman who is the only sibling in his family of five who was born deaf.
For parents of children with special needs the Internet has been a godsend. Patricia Lau from Petaling Jaya said the Internet is an indispensable tool to understand and seek out information on learning difficulties to help her 25-year-old son Eugene.
"There are vast resources and medical information out there," she says. Eugene is a slow learner and can't cope with 'lessons' or 'class' as we understand them, she explains, but he was able to complete his Form 5 education. "Eugene loves the computer. He loves to play games on it and occasionally surfs the Net, too," she adds.