Tech Era, an award-winning tech non-profit based in Ghana has partnered with Dextra, a Canadian social enterprise and engineering company to create affordable assistive technologies for persons with disability with the aim of increasing access to education for children with disabilities, creating fun and learning environment for children and youth with disabilities, providing relief for parents with children with disabilities while increasing chances of employment for persons with disability through technology.
Tech Era, in partnership Dextra, is creating an Assistive Technology (AT) Makerspace in Ashesi University in collaboration with the Ashesi D-lab to develop capacities and competencies of college students to use 3D technology, electronics, programming and affordable materials to redesign existing assistive technologies for children with disabilities and also create new technologies customized to the needs of beneficiaries as well as educational models and learning materials that can improve teaching and learning of science and mathematics for visually impaired learners and other learners with disabilities.
According to the World Bank, 9 out of 10 persons with disability in the world do not have access to glasses, smartphones, wheelchairs, prosthetics, hearing aid and other life-changing assistive technology they need. The Global Disability Forum estimated that in 2050, about 2 billion individuals will need assistive technology to go to school get a job or play a full role in their families or communities.
Many persons with disability in Ghana and in Africa are excluded from education, work, community and family life. In Ghana, persons with disability are mostly not considered as part of the labor force. Meanwhile, their efforts and talents can contribute to the economy. Less than 12% of children with disabilities are in school in Ghana due to poverty and lack of assistive technologies.
The level of hardship coupled with superstitious belief leaves a large majority of persons with disability with no reason than to beg on the streets. For those who have children, what they earn from begging, has never been enough to take their wards through the education they wish them to achieve.
There will be a pre-workshop for the AT Makerspace for 2 weeks which will take place in Ashesi University. The Makerspace hub will run for 9 months, incubating ideas developed during the pre-workshop. This will give fellows the opportunity to improve prototypes using lean research methods, design thinking tools under supervision from both the Dextra and Ashesi D: Lab teams.
At the end of the first year of the AT Makerspace, Tech Era and its partners hope to have developed 10 prototypes of varied assistive technologies like standing frames for children with cerebral palsy and autism, affordable 3D prosthetics for amputated persons, 3D printed learning materials for visually impaired persons to learn and pursue STEM related fields, and other assistive technologies through research. We believe these can provide relief to families and persons with disabilities.
“This initiative is a way to secure the future of our continent by developing local experts who learn to solve challenges we are facing. More importantly it is an intentional strategy and effort to ensure that no one is left behind. The narrative of Ghana and Africa being the worst place to be disabled can be changed if we make efforts, like this, to create sustainable systems that work. We hope that through our innovation, we can provide relief to families and persons with disabilities, restore lost hope and create a sustainable and inclusive future for persons with disability and everyone on the continent. We are excited that Dextra and Ashesi D-lab are collaborating with us to make this happen.” said Derick Omari, the President & Founding Partner of Tech Era.
Early this year, Derick was named as the most influential young Ghanaian in Science and Technology after receiving an honorary award for his work in Ghana from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth at the Buckingham Palace in London.
Tech Era and its partners are open to partnering with corporate organizations who will be interested in sponsoring and partnering to create the assistive technologies. The time to develop local solutions to our problems is now. Derick believes that the project is a start to many great things yet to come to create a better Ghana and Africa for persons with disabilities.
Tech Era is an award winning registered non-profit organization (reg. No. D.S.W/7720) in Ghana which is a company limited by guarantee registered in Ghana (CG072852018). It is committed to empowering persons with disability with technology, capacity building and intervention programs to have access to quality and inclusive education to increase chances of gainful employment.