It is estimated that 3.1 million South Africans are disabled, with some 393 000 being visually impaired. In order to improve the employability of these people, Torque IT is offering specialized IT training.
“We have found that there is a need to provide inclusive learning opportunities for students with disabilities,” says Tracy Govender, IT training manager at Torque IT.
By expanding our offering to this often-marginalised group of students, we are also enlarging the pool of IT specialists and improving the employability of our fellow people with disabilities in South Africa.
Govender points out that Statistics South Africa estimates that approximately 3.1 million people in South Africa have some type of disability, with some 393 000 being visually impaired.
Failure to work together in up skilling people with disabilities will continue hampering the country’s progress in meeting the target of employing at least 2% of people with disabilities, as specified in our skills development legislation. Providing adequate training to people with disabilities continues to be a priority worldwide.
With the right support and investments, the private sector, including training providers and academic institutions, we can do a lot to improve the employment prospects of people with disabilities,” she adds. “We need to review the way courses are structured and design inclusive learning environments.
Torque IT began with a pilot programme training Calvin Botha, a blind IT student. In preparation for the pilot, key assessments were made on the current environment and system to accommodate the student and to ensure that he is as comfortable as possible in a new environment. The student is accustomed to using JAWS, a third party “text to speech” software program, therefore Torque IT provided instructor-led training as well as utilised JAWS to ensure that the student was as comfortable as possible and allowed for easier and quicker adaptation.
Using the new greener Microsoft, the student was able to download digital versions of the training manuals, along with JAWS software, which could be read to him while in class or sitting on his personal computer at home,” explains Darren Hengherr, technical manager at Torque IT.
While Calvin was in class getting to grips with the new software and tools, the Torque IT team ensured that facilities and provisions were in place for his guide dog who accompanied him onsite.
For the first time in a long time, I seriously enjoyed myself,” says Calvin Botha. “I enjoyed the content presented, and the speed and ease with which class was conducted. Computers have always been one of my greatest passions and the course and delivery of materials made me realise that I could do more complex, practical computer lab exercises that would be required in more advanced sections.
Govender explains that, although students with disabilities can participate in classes with ordinary students, special provisions are made to accommodate students with disabilities.
For example, the provision of extra time during exams, one on one after lecture engagements to allow for catching up where required.
At Torque IT, we realise that each person is unique and we make provisions for that. Each student with a disability that enrols for training with us will be given an individual needs assessment. We are still in the early stages of this journey and will continue improving our facilities and systems as we go along.
According to Govender, Torque IT’s objective is to help build the skills for an inclusive workplace that values all individuals and gives them a chance to contribute their IT skills and knowledge to the world of work and society.
* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA