An award-winning social organisation, Tech Era, has launched a platform that is going to help build the capacity and skills of African developers and innovators to develop affordable and easy assistive technology for people with disabilities in Ghana.
The initiative, called Assistive Technology Makerspace, is a product of a partnership between Tech Era, Dextra and Ashesi D-Lab. Dextra is also a social enterprise and engineering company headquartered in Canada.
The Assistive Technology Makerspace will develop tools by employing 3D tech, electronics, programming, and design thinking methods.
A lot of other organisations are in support of this initiative. The disability community, which is the focus, non-governmental organisations, volunteers, corporate organisations, investors, teachers, etc. were all at the launch to support the new program.
The chief executive of Tech Era, Derick Omari, stated that he was completely positive about the future of the Assistive Technology Makerspace initiative.
Midia Shikh Hassan, CEO and Co-founder of Dextra, speaking at the launch, also expressed his optimism about the prospects of Makerspace and hoped that the program can really affect the lives of people with disabilities in the country.
This, the collaboration seeks to do by ensuring access to the right tools to help such people access quality education, employment opportunities and attain social inclusion.
Already, some people have acquired training in programming, 3D designing and modelling, lean research methodology, and basics in innovation and entrepreneurship.
These people, who had been trained for only two weeks prior to the launch, pitched and exhibited prototypes of assistive technologies they had developed. Their assistive tools included smart braille keyboards, smart sticks, and 3D printed tactile braille geometry toolsets for visually impaired learners.
Others tools were tactile maps, rotating toothbrushes for persons with cerebral palsy, grip devices and specialised calculators for persons with visual impairment.
One significant tool that has been developed from the Assistive Technology Makerspace initiative is the “IXAM”. This is a specially designed software which allows secondary cycle students who are visually impaired to practice past WASSCE exams in preparation for their main WASSCE exams. This was demonstrated at the launch by a visually impaired individual.