According to the UN, more than 1 billion people globally have some type of disability. They are one of the most excluded groups in our society and are among the hardest hit by the Covid-19 crisis. Even under normal circumstances, persons living with disabilities are less likely to access health care, education, employment and to participate in the community. Therefore an integrated approach is required to ensure that persons with disabilities are not left behind.
In this case, IT plays a critical role in developing assistive technologies. There are technologies i.e products or systems, that maintains, increases, or improves the functional capability of people with disabilities.
At this year’s International Day of Disabled People, Tech giant Microsoft organised a global talent acquisition event through its engineering center Microsoft Africa Development Center (Microsoft ADC) for engineering and non-engineering talents living with disabilities in Africa. At the event, Speakers reiterated the importance of inclusiveness of people living with disability in the workspace especially as they constitute a significant part of the unemployed majorly due to their disabilities. Some of the major highlights of their event was demonstrating in practical terms what inclusivity entails, where two of their keynote speakers gave a brief description of their physical appearance describing what they wore, just to ensure that nobody was left behind as they had different disabilities presented at the event. They’ve also made available some features in teams such as captions, transcripts, blurred background for presentations and virtual representation at the workplace environment.
It was clear from the event that a key component in making the life of people living with disability better is to raise awareness about the potentials that are inherent in people living with disabilities. During the event it examples of the various feats and groundbreaking achievements that has been recorded by people living with disabilities was discussed and this further established the fact that ‘’their disability would never be a hindrance to their success’’ and a worthy example in this context is Nick Vujicic- Founder of Life with Limbs, who according to him found his own potentials though born without limbs and hands, is touching and motivating people living with disabilities around the globe.
With a lot of new roles springing up in the tech industry, Microsoft stays committed to ensuring that people living with disabilities are not left out as they bring promising opportunities and new upgrades to their existing inclusivity and accessibility programs to better serve them as well as university students and experienced professionals in the coming years.
As the world continues to find better ways to deal with the challenges COVID -19 has left us with, we all should stay committed to developing and taking advantage of technologies that can help us create a more inclusive world for people living with disabilities.