As the Swahili saying goes, “chema (or kizuri) chajiuza, kibaya chajitembeza”. Meaning (A good thing sells itself; a bad thing must be advertised.). The saying clearly depicts what inABLE is all about and the strides it has made towards positively influencing the lives of persons living with visual impairments and especially the learners in special schools for the blind in Kenya.
For example, On June 14th we welcomed Insights Manager Clara Aranda Jan from the GSM Association (GSMA), which specializes in mobile technology. She came to see how the inABLE Computer-Lab-for-the Blind program in Kenya uses assistive computer technology at the Thika Primary School for the Blind and how best to collaborate in terms of mobile accessibility, which will eventually benefit the visually impaired individuals. The GSMA represents mobile operators worldwide, including more than 750 operators and 400 companies, who develop and market handset and device makers, software companies, as well as, equipment providers, Internet companies, and organizations in adjacent industry sectors.
Clara was amazed to see how confident the young blind and visually impaired students, ages 7 - 16 years from class 1 to class 7, were interacting with both offline and online computer resources. After keenly observing the students, she concluded that if given opportunity and resources these students could do a lot, especially on mobile technology using different accessible applications, including the educational apps.
She also had a chance to interact with some of our two amazing instructors who are also visually impaired and the beneficiaries of the program since they had a chance to acquire the basic computer skills while they were in the primary level.
On February 8, Safaricom Foundation representatives joined inABLE in celebrating the official launch a solar power installation that powers the inABLE computer labs at the Thika Primary School for the Blind and Thika High School for the Blind, as well as extending solar-heated water to the kindergarten section of the primary school.
Safaricom Regional Sales and Operations in Nairobi West, led the team from Safaricom. Although the solar installation has been delivering sustainable clean energy for a while, this celebration marked the official transfer of the solar power installation to schools.
inABLE computer lab students at both the primary and high school demonstrates various computer skills they have acquired so far and two students discussed how they have benefitted from the computer-lab-for-the-blind program. Schools administration from the two institutions participated in the events, as well as a few teachers.
Thika Primary School and High for the Blind and the entire inABLE organization are very thankful to Safaricom Foundation for their long-standing support and commitment to empowering blind and visually impaired students through assistive computer technology employable-skills training and computer education.
14-year old Whitney pushes herself to master new computer skills with intense determination, despite multiple disabilities. Upon losing here sight at age nine in class four, Whitney had to begin her education all over again from nursery school to learn Braille. In addition, Whitney has left-side paralysis which requires right-hand only computer adaptation.
After staying at home for five years in total blindness, Whitney’s interest in learning was not lost. She works diligently to complete new Braille lessons, as well as the inABLE computer program curriculum.
Whitney’s passion for her computer education grows daily. Whenever her mother comes to the school for a visit, Whitney eagerly demonstrates her newest computer skills.
The strength and persistence that Whitney displays is remarkable. Her computer learning progress exemplifies how computer labs at special-needs schools enhance the learning opportunities for a wide-range of students.
Over the years inABLE has been dependent on the schools budget to pay the electricity in our assistive technology computer labs. Occasionally, the schools would experience some power disruption for upwards of a week and computer classes would come to a halt.
Fortunately, the Safaricom Foundation found a sustainable solution to our power-outage problem. Today all our computer labs for the blind at Thika Primary and Thika High School for the blind are fully solar powered and power outages in a thing of the past and we no longer experience any learning disruptions associated to power outages.
“If you light a lamp for somebody, it will also brighten your path”, is a popular quote attributed to Buddha. This message communicates the spirit of Safaricom Foundation’s generosity and dedicated commitment to work with inABLE since the inception of the Computer-Labs-for-the-Blind program in Kenya.
We, once again give thanks to Safaricom Foundation for their philanthropic support. They brighten the way to help inABLE empower blind and visually impaired youths.
On December 4th, an inABLE team of nine blind individuals and staff members had the honor of celebrating World Disability Day at the Safaricom headquarters. Safaricom LTD, the leading mobile network and mobile money transfer services provider in Kenya, celebrated the day by demonstrating socially responsible leadership through inclusion of persons with disability in both their workforce and products/services.
While in most highly developed countries, inclusion of people with disabilities is an expectation; the reality is, that there are still product developers and service providers who overlook persons living with disability. At Safaricom this is not the case.
For example, computer technology has completely made the world a global village and has even brought a mobile phone-based money transfer services (M-PESA) into our hands. However, this money transfer platform, which required sight, left people with visual impairments without private access. This oversight took away their privacy and security, because personal identification number (PIN) codes were no longer secret.
Thanks to Safaricom’s inclusive values this problem has been resolved. Last August, Safaricom, in collaboration with inABLE, conducted a focus group. Totally blind individuals who utilized accessibility products and services were invited to participate. A voice prompt idea emerged. Today, Safaricom has released a voice prompt technology that enables the blind to securely access its M-PESA payment services.
Safaricom has been a long-term partner to inABLE and a champion of our mission to bring fully accessible product and services to disabled people. Everyone at inABLE.org feels immense pride for our role in the launch of this inclusive M-PESA payment service.
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