Sunday, August 10, 2014

Why it is important to empower children living with special needs with IT skills

Last week I run a PR campaign for KiBO foundation which had partnered with Cisco to provide 
IT training to five special needs schools within Kampala. The training I attended was at Mulago 
School of the deaf.

As the children followed the instructors sign language as he demonstrated how excel sheet works, I could tell how excited they all were to be using a computer. I could relate,  It is the same enthusiasm I too had when I was first introduced to a computer in the fourth grade.

Looking at the bigger picture, these children now have a competitive advantage in the working world because of the skills they now possess. Often people with special needs are marginalized and reduced to blue collar jobs. However in the 21st century, a computer is the big equalizer that provides equal opportunities for all.Some counties like south Africa have tapped into the potential from this group of people. Like deaf people are highly sought after to man CCTV cameras because they are likely to be more attentive than their peers who aren't living with special needs.

While filming the clip, I stumbled into another class by accident. The children were chatting each other up in sign language and it was a humbling moment when I realized that they were just as cheeky, playful and happy as normal children their age. The sad part however is, because of their condition, they are likely to have many of their dreams crushed because they do not fit into societies definition of 'normal' which by all measures is not fair to them and us because we are denying ourselves potential brilliant ideas.

Everyone is born with the ability to change the world, case in point, Steve Hawkins. We must let ourselves see beyond the superficial body makeup to truly see each other for who we really are and technology is playing an important role in creating equal opportunities. 

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