The Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC), in partnership with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), is providing basic computer skills training for visually impaired persons to enable them to mainstream them into the digital economy.
As part of the move, the partners have organised a Training of Trainers (ToT) session to equip tutors with the skills they need to efficiently instruct and provide the best learning experience to the virtually impaired persons they will in turn be training.
Dubbed “Introduction to Computer Basics for the Visually Impaired (ICBVI)”, it is facilitated through the University of Ghana (UG) Assistive Technology Unit.
The unit already offers instructions, workspace and access to specialised software, equipment, and tools for individuals with a disability.
The project spans from Monday, November 13 to Friday, November 24, this year, with the training of 20 trainers.
The ultimate aim is to train 50 more by January next year after which the main training for persons with visual impairments across the country will begin.
The trainers are persons with visual impairment who are assisted by a sighted person.
The training is designed to develop their digital skills, mainly at the basic and intermediate levels and features courses such as Introduction to Cybersecurity, Cybersecurity Essentials, Introduction to IoT, Python, C++ and Entrepreneurship, all known as Digital Transformation Centres (DT) Training Suite.
The project forms part of the DTC initiative launched in September 2019 by the ITU, in partnership with Cisco, a global technology company, to support countries in strengthening the digital capacities of citizens.
The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) is funding the initiative with support from stFoundation, with counterpart funding from GIFEC.
The Administrator of GIFEC, Prince Ofosu Sefah, said that his outfit believed that building the capacities of persons with special needs was at the core of empowering them to become independent and contribute their quota to national development.
“We have to ensure that people with special needs are not left behind because sometimes people forget them when it comes to digitalisation and think in terms of geography, people or rural areas but it’s not just location but also groups who face hurdles that we need to remove,” he stressed.
Mr Sefah stated that in its mission to facilitate the provision of access to all persons through the use of affordable information and communications technology for socio-economic development, GIFEC would leverage the initiative and expand it to reach more groups and societies to ensure everyone benefits.
A Senior Project Manager of ITU, Robyn Fysh, said the ultimate goal of the initiative was to reach marginalised and underserved communities with basic digital skills to boost their participation in the digital economy.
“Today is a first step to bringing the expertise and training courses to provide you as instructors the skills and knowledge that you need to be able to provide this training in your communities and to be able to further train those who participate in the training so that they can engage and connect meaningfully in the digital space,” she stressed.
The Assistive Technology Manager of the university, Alexander Bankole Williams, said the initiative aligned with the university's commitment to creating an inclusive learning environment that celebrated diversity and accessibility to empower individuals with disabilities and set a precedent for other academic and non-academic institutions to follow.
He added that since 2006, UG had championed the cause of digital accessibility through the unit under the Computing Systems which had been instrumental in breaking down barriers and ensuring that academic resources were accessible to all, regardless of physical ability.