Fernando Botelho - Positive Impact Mindset to create affordable talking computer for the blind

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Fernando Botelho co-founder of F123, a social enterprise that has created the most affordable talking computer for the blind is a social entrepreneur with an amazing Positive Impact Mindset #PiMindset. Fernando, blind himself, leads this technological movement by developing accessible open source software for blind people by his team of visually impaired people. Fernando is committed to foster a positive impact around the world for the lives of others like him.

We’ve met Fernando through RESI - Rotary e-Club for Social Innovators - and through the PiMaker Howard Weinstein. Immediately when meeting Fernando we have been curious to know more about him and the work he does. We share with you our interview with him.

How did you come to do what you do? What’s your personal background story?

 
 
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"It has been quite an adventure, but
once I started this work, it just made perfect sense for me, in a way that no conventional job ever did.”

I became partially blind when I was 16 and totally blind at 20. Although, thanks to my parents, I was fortunate to have access to assistive technology (i.e. talking computer, screen magnification, etc). I knew that the vast majority of the blind around the world did not. 

After a few years working in a variety of organizations, which were unrelated to blindness, I started thinking that maybe I could do something to improve access to assistive technology for the large number of blind persons who cannot afford typical devices.

I have now been working on various versions of this initiative, which we call F123 (pronounced F 1 2 3), for more than a decade. It has been quite an adventure, in the more challenging meaning of the word, but once I started this work, it just made perfect sense for me, in a way that no conventional job ever did.

 

How do you feel you are positively impacting your society and environment?

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"Blind persons to always have access to technology and training that is affordable and competitive."

Our project develops, distributes, and supports free and open source software, so that blind persons can always have access to technology and training that is affordable and competitive. Our objective is to increase access to education and employment among the blind at a scale which is meaningful given the vast numbers of unemployed blind persons around the world.

 
 

What's your dream, your vision?

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"I envision a world where blind themselves will be able to obtain, maintain, and improve the technologies they need."


I envision a world where there will no longer be educational or employment opportunities lost because a piece of technology was poorly designed or too expensive for blind persons. Just as importantly, the blind themselves will be able to obtain, maintain, and improve the technologies they need.

 
 

Do you feel you have found your meaning and purpose in life? Why?

Yes, because every once in a while we get an e-mail telling us that our work has been the "light at the end of the tunnel" for someone. Then it all makes sense, and I feel like I am doing the right thing, at the right time, with the right team and volunteers.


For more about Fernando and to support the F123 project, please follow this link on guide.F123.org