Visually impaired children are normally educated in regular classrooms in the neighborhood school or at a separate school for the blind. One of them is David Odongo, a class six pupil at St. Oda school for the blind in Thika.
A new partnership between inABLE and microsoft, targets at introducing coding to disabled children and their educators in primary schools with the aim of demystifying coding and to spark interest in it as an active 21st century skill especially amongst young learners and not limited to those who are visually enabled.
Under this project, David has been taught how to code and program.
“Being a disable person does not limit me from performing other things that normal people do,” He said.
According to research by the American Optometric Association an acknowledged leader and recognized authority for eye and vision care in the world, digital technology has become an integral part of children’s lives both in the classroom and at home.
Educators say people with sight often hold dismal ideas about blindness and the abilities of blind people. They may not know any competent or any successful blind adult and cannot imagine how anyone can achieve good results without the ability to see.
“Blind children are very vulnerable to being placed in lower level classes and having decisions made on their behalf by adults who have low expectations for their achievement,” says Carol Ngondi the computer instructor at the Thika school for the blind.
“Teaching these children how to code has taught me how to view the world from another person’s eyes. We have a responsibility to address the growing problem of digital exclusion. Learning through technology is one way of ensuring that we develop a more inclusive society where children develop appropriate 21st century skills,” she added.
David wants to become a computer lecturer at Oxford university.
“I always try hard to be what others think I cannot be,” He said, adding that he draws inspiration from Adelle Onyango of Kiss 100.
“She is the kind of presenter who gives you hope when you listen to her shows,” he added.
The benefits of technology depends on the way children, parents and teachers choose to use it to enhance learning. Using them well for educational purposes can help create opportunities for more active and meaningful learning experiences as the country gears up towards a completely digital platform. Twenty first century skills are a hot topic in education today.
“Our children will need to survive and thrive in an increasingly competitive global landscape, and at the same time be able to collaborate with others from all over the world” says Carol Ngondi.
According to Alex Nyingi, the citizenship and public affairs management officer at microsoft, training children with visual disability is important in placing them together with others in the digital world.
“Persistence in training of children with visual disabilities is key as we are able to class them with their fellow peers and also educate them about the emerging trends as we head towards a digital world,” he said.
“I know my mum will be proud of me once she sees that I can now create a website. She has been part of my every day to day activities and she is all that I got,” said David.