About 314 million people are visually impaired worldwide and 45 million of them are blind. However, despite vast in number, the blind and visually impaired are a forgotten group in Africa. They are marginalized, living dependent condition, either hidden from the rest of society or seen resorting to begging and prostitution for survival. The majority lack self-esteem and self-worth.
“Visually Impaired or Blind student who do not offer any computer skills”
- Presently, Kenyan schools for the blind do not offer students any computer skills training and graduates students with only Braille reading and writing abilities, only to enter a world completely oblivious to Braille.
- Educational opportunities for visually impaired are scarce and significantly behind technologically.
- Further hindering their role in the workforce is widespread bias and a lack of understanding of their capabilities.
Computer labs for the blind & visually impaired are a channel aiming at (1) building self-reliance and independence; (2) building social connections; (3) teaching information-gathering and academic advancement; and (4) training in skills employers seek most. It ultimately decreases the educational gap between sighted children and visually impaired children in Africa in order to, finally, enter a job marketplace that had previously dismissed them, leaving their intellectual & technical capacity unused.
A complete assistive computer-technology environment and curriculum are utilized for this program. It provides a complete assistive technology eco-system that includes accessible hardware, software, computer-lab infrastructure, Internet connectivity, and employable skills training to empower the Blind and Visually Impaired Students in Africa. Through this eco-system, students are allowed to search diverse sets of programs.
First of all, computer programs will be suggest with Computer Lab. The Computer Lab is a structural renovation, and computers and other accessories are designed for blind and visually-impaired students. Here, students can take computer training or instruction to develop their computer skills. There are three different levels of curriculum from Basic to Advanced via Intermediate. Also, curriculum development is also a part of the program.
Secondly, there is a special reading space. It is really a library and there are a bunch of books, as well as, computers. It also provides library services and well furnished.
The third is teaching Low Tech Tools and Mobility. This means the computer aid for simple mathematics. Wikki Stix, Embossed Sheets, Rubber bands, Walking Sticks and White Canes are used to teach or learn mobility.
Last, this program includes some advocacy and employment projects, as well as, education. Therefore, it issues a computer certificate and provides some opportunities to practice Corporate Social Responsibility. Also, inABLE offers jobs for blind and visually-impaired people and tries to increase the job opportunity, communicating with companies and government.
The blind and visually impaired students at the schools are now mastering keyboarding, accessing online educational resources, communicating with new friends worldwide, typing essays, researching homework assignments, and developing employable skills. Currently, 8 assistive technology computer labs serving students and teachers at six special needs schools for the blind in Kenya. In these labs, 2000 students and 150 teachers are teaching and learning by using multiple computer types (desktop, laptop, and iPad). Totally, more than 25,000 hours of assistive technology computer training have been implemented.
Moreover, during vacation camp, students spent seven days with iPad training and there have been 60~100 attendees from four schools. inABLE made a research partnership with Georgia Tech and Kenyatta University to conduct a national baseline survey in the nine special schools for the Blind to measure technology skills and perception of the students and their teachers. Also, Ministry of Education (MOE), signed an MOU with inABLE in February 2017 to increase access to education by learners with visual impairment through digitalization of all learning materials, basic computer-training curriculum, and impact research.
At inABLE, we envision a world where disability is not inability, a community where individuals with disabilities have access to quality educational, technological, and employment opportunities. The mission is to empower the blind and visually impaired students in Africa through assistive computer technology. Using computer assistive technology, effective training, and utter dedication, inABLE celebrates the educational advancements that completely blind and visually impaired students can achieve when given the opportunity to learn computer technology. inABLE also ardently advocates for the adoption of the educational policy that truly supports the use of computer assistive technology in specials schools for the blind in Africa. This includes the use of computer assistive technology: education curriculum, accessible hardware, training of teachers and more.