The Executive Director for Inclusive Tech Group, Dr. Millicent Agangiba, has called on the government to compressively implement the 2012 Inclusive Education Policy in order not to exclude persons with disabilities in the current digital age.
Speaking to Citi News in Takoradi during the non-profit organization’s training of 22 persons with disabilities in ICT with Assistive Technology, Dr. Agangiba, herself a physically challenged person, said despite the Inclusive Education Policy which was passed in 2012 to ensure Inclusive Education, most schools are still not inclusive due to lack of disability-friendly facilities or resources.
“I will say that on paper, a lot has been done by way of policies in our educational sector. This is because, way back in 2006 when the Persons with Disability Act was formulated, it was to give opportunity for persons with disability to have equal rights. Also in 2012, the Inclusive Education Policy was passed, but sill most of the schools are not inclusive. Very few schools can willingly accept physically challenged persons, be it a blind or a deaf person.”
”This is largely because they don’t have disability-friendly facilities or resources. Some institutions that accept persons with disabilities can even ask them to bring their own interpreter when they have paid the same school fees as able persons. So it’s about time we begin full implementation of the policy and the time is now to make sure that we don’t exclude persons with disability in the digital world”, she said.
“What we want to do is to empower persons with disability. Being a person with a disability, blind or deaf; to have equal opportunities in the digital world. This is very important because aside from the fact that people can be born disabled, along the line somebody might also develop a disability. At this training, there are some who were working and have become blind along the way, and so they need new skills so that they are able to go back to work to have a more decent life. We also have those schooling here to acquire new skills to aid them to compete with their able colleagues“, she noted.
The Executive Director for the Inclusive Tech Group, who is also a Lecturer at the University of Mines and Technology, also appealed to government to implement the policy to empower the disabled through Assistive Technology.
“Assistive Technology is very important for persons with disabilities in general. Personally, I’m physically challenged and can say that I have come this far because I was moving along with technology. Basically Assistive technologies are devices or software that help to improve upon the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities. Thus, it compensates for the disability, and so such technologies are needed on an everyday basis at the school. They need such Assistive Technologies to be able to learn, for instance, a blind man will not be able to learn with the normal ruler, he needs a brail ruler. So this technology is important, but in Ghana, Assistive Technology is very expensive, not readily available in educational institutions, no local content for the few available, screen readers available are in a foreign accent and they want to have Ghanaian accent or even a Twi version.”
“This is why we want the full implementation of the Inclusive Education Policy to address these needs. However, we at Inclusive Tech Group are investing time and our little resources to research into Assistive Technology because it is very keys to using technology to make life easy for the disabled “, she added.
One of the 22 beneficiaries of the Inclusive Tech Group’s ICT training in collaboration with Duapa Werkspace, Austin Botwe, spoke to Citi News about how the training has been helpful to him.
“I completed tertiary education with accountancy background. I was working and all of a sudden I lost my sight. So I had to resign from work in 2012/2013 and life became very hard for me. Somebody introduced me to this training because someone had to be reading my messages for me. So I was actually depending on people, but I’m now independent. I have actually gained employment in one of the IT companies now”, he said.