It is often said disability does not mean inability but in reality, the prospects of the disabled to develop capacity is restricted by sparse access to opportunities and resources. This has inspired Tech Era, an award-winning social enterprise that empowers persons with disabilities (PWDs), to partner with Dextra (a Canadian social enterprise and engineering company) and Ashesi D-Lab to launch the Assistive Technology Makerspace.
The Assistive Technology Makerspace is dedicated to building the capacity and skills of young African leaders to develop affordable and accessible assistive technology for PWDs in Ghana. This will be done by employing 3D technology, programming, electronics and design thinking methods. The event for the official launch was held at the British Council, Ghana on Friday, 9th August, 2019.
The launch received many guests from the disability community, corporate Ghana, non-governmental organizations, investors, teachers, college students, volunteers, among many others. Among the guests in include celebrated software engineer and co-founder of logiciel, Farida Bedwei, Mr. Nana Owusu Achau (MD, Kings Innovations), Mrs. Adelaide Asante (Director of Science, Technology & Innovation at the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology & Innovation), Elizabeth Patterson (Founder of Girls Education Initiative), Dr. Mark Ankrah (CEO, CEM Ability Village) among many others.
Speaking at the launch, Derick Omari, CEO of Tech Era and Midia Shikh Hassan, CEO and Co-founder of Dextra both expressed their optimism about the prospects of this Makerspace and intend for the program to go a long way to transform the lives of individuals with disability in Ghana by empowering them to access quality education, employment opportunities and attain social inclusion.
Other prominent speakers including Farida Bedwei (Co-Founder of Logiciel), Nana Owusu-Achau (MD of Kings Innovations) and Mrs. Adelaide Asante (a representative of the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation) all commended Tech Era for envisioning such a great initiative and encouraged organizations and the general public to invest their patronage in any ways relevant in order to promote the initiative of an inclusive society for all.
Fellows of the Assistive Technology Makerspace, who had acquired substantial training in 3D designing and modeling, programming, lean research methodology and basics in innovation and entrepreneurship over the space of 2 prior weeks, pitched and exhibited prototypes of assistive technologies they had developed.
These assistive technologies included 3D printed tactile braille geometry toolsets for visually impaired learners, smart braille keyboards, smart sticks, tactile maps, rotating toothbrushes for persons with cerebral palsy, grip devices and specialized calculators for persons with visual impairment.
Again, IXAM - a specially designed software application that enables visually impaired senior high school students to solve and practice past WASSCE questions in preparation towards their final examination, was demonstrated by a visually impaired individual.
By the end of the launch, the audience was sparked with the hope of a promising future for everyone; both sighted and unsighted, disabled and nondisabled.