Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired

by INABLE, CORP
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Computer Labs for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Coding Interns Team
Coding Interns Team

inABLE Coding for Interns Team recently showcased their coding skills at the 3rd Annual Inclusive Africa Conference hosted by inABLE on May 25-26, 2022 at the Trademark Hotel in Nairobi Kenya.

This is a team of five young brilliant interns who are either blind and visually impaired and have all been been part of the Computer-Labs-for-the-Blind Program at Primary and High School level. They all did graduate high school recently and inABLE enrolled them in the coding program which takes a year to complete trained by inABLE.

In less than one year, these interns have proved to be very skilled at HTML and they have all created different websites which they are currently working on perfecting. These interns have also now been hired as Computer Instructors and are teaching the blind and visually impared students in the 6 inABLE Computer-Labs-for-the-Blind stations in Meru, Thika, Siaya, and Likoni Counties. 

Led by Anthony who aspires to be the first blind computer programmer in Africa, their presentation at the 3rd Annual Inclusive Africa Conference was proof that Disability is not inability, and given a platform, people living with disabilities can excel and deliver. These interns delivered an inspiritation presentation to over 300 participants from different industries and countries. 

These phenomenal group includes Atanus, Anthony, Amina, Charity, and Christine. 

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Students learning in the inABLE Computer Labs
Students learning in the inABLE Computer Labs

Thanks to Braille, thousands of blind Person with Disabilities (PWDS) are literate. What is Braille?  It is a code by which many languages—such as English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, and dozens of others—may be written and read.  

With the rapid inventions and development of assistive communication technologies, some would argue that Braille has become irrelevant today. Not so. It remains unmatched, due to its strengths of literacy that have yet to be replicated by technology. If anything, technology complements Braille, and advances in technology have made it more widely available and accessible. 

Braille is essential in the context of education, freedom of expression and opinion, as well as social inclusion (UN). It’s really amazing that a 15-year-old Louis Braille invented this reading and writing encoding system in 1814. Now that’s a lasting impact.   

As a result of Braille’s visionary writing system, young learners like Janet, a blind student in Class 7, are motivated to create solutions to their own learning challenges. Janet uses both Braille and technology in her education: “Braille was the first place I learned how to read and write, and thanks to that background, advanced computer assistive technology, such as screen readers, have enabled me to improve my reasoning, grades, and research skills.” 

Additionally, Higgins, a 14-year-old blind student in Class 5, has been part of the inABLE accessibility technology labs since he was in pre-primary. His commitment and determination have helped him to become a top student with advanced keyboard and typing skills. He is so advanced that his teachers have introduced coding in his class at an early stage, to help him code his way to a new invention for the blind… 

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Joy in one of the Computer-Labs-For-the-Blind
Joy in one of the Computer-Labs-For-the-Blind

An Africa fit for children is one that kids feed, play freely, are secure and have a chance with education for a better future. However, there is so much work to do as before the COVID-19 pandemic began, nearly half of the 93M children with disabilities in the world were not in school(UNICEF) Today, we ask when and how will Africa become fit for children in this given context and what role does each one of us have to play? 

At inABLE we follow the African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child”. 

For Joy, a low-vision, 10-year-old grade one student at St. Oda primary School for the Blind, education is a life line. As an autistic youth with albinism, she has faced stigma since birth, which contributed greatly to her delayed education. Her speech impairment, due to autism, affects her communication with other people. Yet, she perseveres. 

Despite her disability, Joy has proven so many people wrong. She is the smartest student in her class, and her numeracy skills are more advanced than her grade level. Through the inABLE’s assistive Tech Labs, she was introduced to basic computer skills nine months ago, and is already competent in typing and browsing the internet, something most of her peers have not been able to do. She has also tremendously improved her reading and writing skills since joining the computer classes.  

According to her Computer Instructor, Getrude, “Joy is proof that disability is not inability. She is clearly interested in ICT and STEM fields and with continued training, she can do so much better in no time and will be a role model to many other young blind and visually impaired learners who think it is almost impossible to master computer skills”. Getrude is playing her role towards realizing an Africa fit for children as she is dedicated to helping special needs students like Joy mold their career interests around ICT towards an independent future. 

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Shadrack, Computer Instructor training teachers
Shadrack, Computer Instructor training teachers

Over the last decade, inABLE has built collaborative partnerships with special schools for the blind in Kenya to empower blind and low vision youth and their teachersFrom the start teachers' training was a priority. In August 2009, at the first inABLE Computer Lab at Thika Primary School for the Blind, 30 teachers embarked on computer training over a period of three months, during weekends and lunchtimesToday, we have enrolled over 12,000 students, and 190 teachers (70 male and 120 female) have been trained from seven partner schools for the blind in Kenya, including St. Lucy Primary and High Schools for the Blind, Meru County, Thika Primary and High Schools for the Blind, Kiambu County, St. Oda Primary School for the Blind, Siaya County and Likoni Primary and High Schools for the Blind, Meru County. 

These motivated teachers have learned to independently access digital content, and over 50% are capable of training students on their own and some have incorporated laptops in their classes, allowing students to take notes in class. InABLE invites teachers to use the computer assistive technology labs at any time to support their lesson preparations and reportingWe have been told that their teaching delivery has improvedand their ability to explore further research. Their students have gained from the teachers' access to online educational resources, such as educational videos and audiobooks, and manuals. 

Here’s how the inABLE computer assistive technology labs have benefited the teachers: 

“Computer has enabled me to be able to communicate and made me independent allowing me to learn so much more information by myself,” says Paul. 

“Computer skills have connected me to the world and helped me to enjoy browsing the internet as compared to the previous manual operation I was used to. It has also helped me do a lot of research and put me in a position to source for first-hand information unlike before” says Jane.  

“Computer skills have positively impacted my social life and career. The skills have enabled me to optimally deliver to my learners in a more innovative and creative way, as well as do digital appraisals,” says Lawi. 

“Learning computer skills has equipped me with the relevant knowledge, skills and attitude to maneuver in the technology world. I can now impact the knowledge and skills attained to the learners. says Ann. 

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A group of students engaged in a discussion
A group of students engaged in a discussion

Peer learning is a process of students learning from students in a formal or an informal way. Teaching on purpose reports that peer learning has been proven to be a successful venture when it comes to improving students’ academic and social cognitive skills. In practice, inABLE has been blending peer-to-peer learning in the Computer-Labs-for-the-Blind program for close to a decade and the results have been tremendous. 

At inABLE we have many examples of how peer mentoring has groomed future leaders and digital technology pioneers, including: 

Valerie, is now a third-year student pursuing Gender and Development Studies at Kenyatta University and a beneficiary of the inABLE assistive technology Labs. Thanks to the assistive Computer Labs and peer-to-peer learning, Valerie gained her independence which boosted her confidence and she is now the Congressperson for Special Needs Students at the Kenyatta University. Delvin, a 20-year-old low vision high school graduate, joined the new inABLE Coding for Interns project and is currently advancing her coding skills set to improve her chances with employment and self-employment as a freelance Coder.  

Nellyjoy, a 13-year-old class 7 student with low-vision at St. Lucy Primary for the Blind has been part of the Computer-Labs-for-the-Blind program since the first grade. Recently, due to the Covid-19 pandemic that led to the widespread school closures, special needs students, like Nellyjoy, were forced to go back home. However, she was one of the lucky students to receive a Chromebook laptop as part of a home-schooling project launched by inABLE, in partnership with the Ministry of Education of Kenya, and Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). While learning from home, Nellyjoy advanced very quickly. She mastered the keyboard, improved her typing speed, and has even mentored friends virtually. When the schools re-opened, her computer skills, compared to other peers, led the teachers to appoint her as the leader of a group of 19 students participating in peer-to-peer learning. 

Much of the inABLE Computer-Lab-for-the-Blind program success can be attributed to peer-to-peer learning, explains Irene, Founder and Executive Director, inABLE: “When our instructors step back and invite group collaboration a more interactive and engaging learning process unfolds, pushing the students to collectively advance their computer skills together.” 

InABLE intentionally began the computer assistive technology program at the primary school level to ensure vital computer skills, including keyboarding, software use and Internet navigation were accomplished early. The peer-to-peer learning at inABLE computer labs happens more often with the students who have benefited from the primary school program and have advanced with age, grade and aptitude.  

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Organization Information

INABLE, CORP

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Irene Mbari-Kirika
Founder & Executive Director
Atlanta, GA United States
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