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
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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A recent interview with a local radio station focused on the power of education and technology for the blind and visually impaired. Edwin, a beneficiary of the inABLE Computer Labs for the Blind Program, shared that the computer lessons boosted his dreams to pursue music. Using assistive technology such as screen readers (NVDA) and Talkback, he was able to learn how to play musical instruments, such as piano and guitar. Edwin would sometimes listen to YouTube videos that taught him how to play piano during the inABLE computer labs session. He confesses, “The computer labs were such a gate-away for me and luckily, I was able to understand the basics quickly. I was always interested in music and I really needed to know how to play the piano. For me, the computer classes were another chance for me to learn a few extra music lessons. I may have been cheeky, but that has really paid off in the end”.   

Edwin’s life is a true testimony to Benjamin Franklin’s saying that an investment in knowledge pays the best interest. Today, despite being blind, Edwin is a musician who plays a number of musical instruments including piano and guitar, and he also enjoys singing. He now has his own personal YouTube channel to teach basic piano skills, as well as display his musicality with a music band he formed with a group of friends. 

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At the new inABLE internship program it has been one month since Delvin, a 20-year old low vision high school graduate, began advancing her computer skills. Prior to this internship opportunity, Delvin participated in the inABLE computer-labs-for-the-blind program for three years at St. Lucy’s primary and high school. Now she’s focused on improving her coding competencies.

“For the past month, I have been taught about HTML, CSS, and bootstrap framework.  As of now, I can confidently work with HTML and CSS; and am still learning bootstrap in detail. My goal is to perfect in my coding and accessibility work by the end of the internship so that I am ready to take on new lessons and responsibilities.” Delvin

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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
$9,351 raised of $30,000 goal
 
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