According to the UN, around 10 per cent
of the world’s population, or 650 million people, live with a
disability. They are the world’s largest minority
. Children and
adults with disabilities face myriad challenges: abuse, lack of
education, illiteracy, and unemployment to name a few.
Deepak Bhatia of the World Bank argues
that ICTs provide a model to allow disabled people to better
integrate socially and economically into their communities. For
example, the Internet allows those with disabilities to organize and
network. Perhaps most importantly, technology is slowly transforming
the education sector by providing greater access to a variety of
learning materials. Screen-reading software reads content aloud.
Voice recognition software composes spoken messages. Mobile devices
are much easier to operate than a traditional computer.
Ghana’s government is committed to
teaching ICT skills to youth with disabilities. The Persons with
Disability ICT Project aims to equip certain disabled people with ICT
skills for the contemporary world.
Similarly, South Africa’s Department
of Communications hopes to create an enabling environment for the
disabled. Minister Dina Pule has challenged youth to be part of the
solution. With proper stakeholder cooperation, the program is
expected to reduce unemployment, and more importantly, ensure equal
opportunities for all.
In Namibia and Tanzania, Sign Wiki
allows the deaf and those who communicate with the deaf (ideally
everyone) to learn sign language. Currently, there are 2,200
Tanzanian signs and 800 Namibian signs in the databases.
The aforementioned initiatives are
fairly new, so it is too soon to tell if government-sponsored ICT
programs achieve their initial goals. Stay tuned though because with
some effort, ICT will not only empower the disabled but will also
cause those who are healthy to understand how to help those who are
(Source: OAfrica News)