Global Rainbow Foundation
10th January 2020 by Catia Neves
D&A delivers Assistive Technology training at The University of Mauritius to 25 people from NGOs and SEN schools enjoyed learning about free open-source Assistive Technology strategies.
What was the challenge?
- While 2,656 students are enrolled in SEN schools in Mauritius, it is estimated that only 1 percent of persons with disabilities (PwDs) enrolled at SEN schools progress on to university.
- Most are from low socio-economic backgrounds, some with access to computers, most with access to smartphones.
- Organisations around the world are working towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, where the goals explicitly include disability and persons with disabilities 11 times.
What did we do?
- Diversity and Ability were invited by international NGO Global Rainbow Foundation (GRF) in collaboration with the Commonwealth of Learning to deliver training to NGOs, SEN schools and PwD’s in Mauritius.
- The project started with a day-long Disability Situation Analysis presentation aimed to illustrate the current state of inclusive practice and accessibility for PwD’s in higher education in Mauritius. It was delivered to key actors in the field of inclusive education, including stakeholders from GRF, SEN Schools and the University of Mauritius. The key focus was to understand what role enabling technologies could play in bettering the education of PwD attending Special Educational Needs (SEN) schools and higher education institutions.
- This was followed by the delivery of disability Needs Assessment Training to a range of practitioners, namely the GRF team. This was designed to equip them with the skills, confidence and knowledge to deliver their own Needs Assessments in the future. D&A provided on-site Needs Assessments to PwD’s, seminar training and a set of resources including a Needs Assessment Handbook to the practitioners.
What were the benefits of our approach?
Angel Anne-lise Charlot Colomès, Educational Psychologist and Project Coordinator at the Global Rainbow Foundation, said: “The training was really enriching and helpful, especially the approach used during the workshop. It was different and new for people there. All of the participants were really impressed.
“We had three visually impaired people there who enjoyed attending a workshop for the first time, as they could interact by using mentee.com. People could interact by asking questions on their screens. They really enjoyed that as they didn’t have to just rely on using their ears.
“People were asked about their lived experiences as carers and people with disabilities. There was a head of school who was blind and shared his whole life story which was really touching. Having experience of this was really new for us all, as people here don’t usually share their own experiences.
“Now practitioners are more skilled and can use what they’ve learnt in their daily practice. I watched how Robin from D&A rephrased certain things and used different language in the needs assessment which made it clearer for people to understand. I work with visually impaired people and I think this will help me to work at a greater depth now.
“All of the feedback forms from participants say they would like to do more training. Hopefully we will be able to see D&A again and do more projects with them!
Prof. Armoogum Parsuramen, Founder-President of the Global Rainbow Foundation added his thoughts on our project in Mauritius.
He said: “I must say right from the outset when Dr. Mairette Newman from the Commonwealth of Learning introduced me to Atif and Robin from D&A and with the first interaction we had, I was convinced that these two guys were experts in their field, particularly in needs assessment. They also demonstrated their commitment to ensure that they could make a difference in the lives of persons with disabilities. I was very happy to know that all my expectations were fulfilled during their first mission in Mauritius. They have done a wonderful job and we are looking forward to the report and to the follow-up action. We also plan to engage with them with a project which is broader than our island, a project that could expand in Africa and in other parts of the world”.
Mairette Newman, Education Specialist at the Commonwealth of Learning, said: “Working with Diversity and Ability has been a very positive experience. The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) promotes inclusive and equitable education so the selection of D&A as a consultant on a project that focuses on leveraging assistive technology to benefit people with disabilities was a natural fit. Generous in sharing their expertise, culturally sensitive and willing to go the extra mile, CEO Atif Choudury and trainer Robin Hodges demonstrate a passion and energy that sets them apart. Our partner in Mauritius, The Global Rainbow Foundation valued their input and was pleased with the results. D&A’s tagline – Celebrating Difference- is not only what they believe; it’s what they do!”
“Now I will be able to choose my own clothes”
Priscilla tries out Seeing AI, a talking camera app from Global Rainbow Foundation.
Impacted by complete blindness from birth, Priscilla joined our Assistive Technology training in Mauritius at Global Rainbow Foundation.
After learning about Seeing AI, a free talking camera app, designed for the blind and low vision community that narrates the world around you, she said: “Wow, this will help me choose my own clothes to wear and have my love letters read to me!”