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Growing the Internet 29 April 2014

Internet for Differently Abled Communities in Uganda

AfChix Uganda is a chapter of AfChix Africa, a network of women in technology started in 2004 with a mission to network with women and potential girls in computer science/ICT for purposes of supporting them to grow in their careers and to encourage young girls to take up ICT/Computer Science programs for their careers.

AfChix Uganda consists of a team of young girls and women engineers and computer science graduates.

During their research for the Grace Hopper Paper 2013, a team of four members (Software Engineering Students) from Makerere University chose to write about: “Mobile Experiences for the differently abled users” and the Uganda Society for the Deaf Vocational Training Institute was their major case study.

Through an interpreter, the team interacted with the deaf students who were in the computer lab and being their first time to interact with the deaf, they were surprised at the level of understanding by the deaf students. The students had amazing vocational skills yet there was need for them to make their products and services known to the world but the only difference here was the language; They were passionate about ICT but the computers that were considered to be working at the time were only four, very old models and according the school adminstration, and they were received in 2004!

As the team left after the research, we knew we could play a role in making their voices heard!

The starting point was when there was a call for proposal by Internet Society (ISOC). Being a member of ISOC, on behalf of the team, the project coordinator of AfChix Uganda wrote and submitted a proposal to ISOC for the same and the proposal was considered.

Our objective was to enhance the computer/ICT facility by providing 20 better computers and connecting them to the internet, provide training to the deaf students through the interpreters which will eventually allow the students to take advantage of the benefits that come with the internet and ICT in general.

After receiving the grant from ISOC, our project attracted a number of other partners who came on board and were willing to assist. Among these we have Orange Uganda who offered bandwidth and other accessories and Bank of Uganda who recently donated 10 computers to support the project.

The team already did the base line survey of the network, found out the level of understanding of ICT knowledge by the students, got quotations from over 10 potential suppliers and the selection committee chose the right suppliers who are now working on the network with our team. Due to the long procedures from the new donations from Bank of Uganda who kept us waiting for the computers, our work was slowed down and we are now only targetting to finish with the networking of the computers by first week of May.

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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