5 Leveraging Accessible ICT-enabled schools as community hubs for training for Adults with Disabilities

“At the [accessible ICT center] we learn that because you have a disability you don’t have to be on the side, in a corner like a piece of furniture. On the contrary, you struggle for your life, these classes are an incentive to get ahead, to believe in yourself, to feel capable, that you can do the things that you want, the goals that you make.” Ecuadorian person with a motor impairment, participant in a POETA supported ICT centre144

This section explores the potential of leveraging connected schools, equipped with Assistive Technology, as training centers for persons with disabilities within the community. It is based on the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITUs) experiences in supporting Multipurpose Telecommunication Centers (MTCs), coupled with learning from international studies on the use of accessible telecenters and Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) centers in providing technical skills and job-preparedness training to persons with disabilities.

While equipping connected schools with assistive technology (AT) is a worthy goal in and of itself, the benefits can be multiplied by taking advantage of already installed ATs and computer equipment, as well as the administrative and management structures of the school to provide services to the broader community. Two potential uses can be considered. The first encompasses the well- established notion of providing Internet access and ICTs through community-based telecenters. The second considers the possibility of literacy, numeracy, basic ICT skills and vocational job skills training.

144Technology and Social Change (TASCHA) group, University of Washington. Technology for employability in Latin America: Research with at-risk youth & people with disabilities http://cis.washington.edu/files/2009/11/tascha_ict-employability-latin-america_200910.pdf