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Creating an inclusive world for disabled people in ICT

    29 Nov 2021
Creating an inclusive world for disabled people in ICT

“Disability rights awareness month
is all about removing barriers to
create an inclusive and accessible
society for all.” Divan Viljoen,
Marketing Manager, Dynamic DNA

Creating a better, more inclusive world for disabled people is the focus of Disability Rights Awareness month, celebrated each year in South Africa between 3 November and 3 December, the UN’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities. In response to this, Dynamic Technologies’ group company Dynamic DNA has renewed its commitment to increasing employment for youth with disabilities through development and training in ICT skills.

In an article by Divan Viljoen, Marketing Manager for Dynamic DNA, titled ‘ICT is the perfect career for people living with disabilities’, he says, “The theme for Disability Rights Awareness month is all about removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all.”

This is directly aligned with Dynamic Technologies’ culture of diversity and inclusion in business practices, relationships and attitudes, to create workplaces where human potential can thrive.

Career opportunities in the flourishing ICT sector are abundant, and the need for scarce ICT skills is burgeoning. Add to this the fact that the industry does not discriminate against people with disabilities, the work is not physically strenuous, and communication is tech-based – and ICT comes up as the ideal career option for people with disabilities who have an aptitude and passion for the world of technology.

Divan adds to the catalogue of excellent reasons for people with disabilities to embark on ICT careers, and for organisations to prioritise employing people with disabilities in IT jobs. He notes that products created by the ICT sector are making the world more accessible, and that innovations such as a wide range of assistive technologies have opened up the playing field. This means that people with disabilities can function at the same level of productivity as any other employee.

These technologies include speech recognition software for people with motor skill impairments, and eyeglasses that can help the visually impaired convert visual information into audio, and hearing assistive technology (HAT) that can dramatically improve the lives of people with hearing loss.

The new normal in the working world with hybrid or remote workspaces is now an accepted way of working. And it effectively removes the various physical barriers of access to the workplace, such as using public transport, enabling people with mobility disabilities to work from home.

Dynamic DNA’s measures to accommodate people with disabilities include:

  • Complete accessibility for people with mobility limitations at its Randburg campus
  • Where possible, offering students with disabilities the opportunity to do their course totally online, eliminating tedious and stressful commuting, often in public transport
  • Courses that allow students to follow at their own pace
  • An academic team that is fully in tune with the needs of people with disabilities and knows how to accommodate and assist them where required
  • Mentors who provide additional support and guidance to ensure their learnership journey is a success.

This not only adds to the lives of people with disabilities; it also adds value to the company. “For everyone at Dynamic DNA, we live the ethos to ‘develop and empower’ – and that means everyone. The success of our learners is regarded as our success too. For learners with disabilities, it’s an opportunity to be fully integrated into the workforce and enjoy a self-sufficient life, the opportunity to care for their family and to contribute to the economy,” says Divan.

The reality is that the status quo for people with disabilities in South Africa needs change – and the public and private sectors, as well as general society, can take action and make a difference. Hlengiwe Mkhize, Deputy Minister of Women, Youth, and People with Disabilities, said in her address to launch Disability Rights Awareness month on 3 November 2021, that the SA Human Rights Commission reports that persons with disabilities account for 5.1% of the population aged 5 and over (estimated at over 3 million people).Many continue to experience lack of access to adequate health and basic education, and are at risk of not being able to secure employment. “This sector is also particularly vulnerable to the compounded effects of discrimination and abuse,” says Mkhize.

Divan highlights Dynamic DNA’s ongoing efforts to remove barriers to entry into employment for people with disabilities to improve their quality of life and enable their participation in the economy. “Having enriched the lives of close on 1 000 under-privileged learners who include people with disabilities, and with the help of our clients, Dynamic DNA is developing youth to ensure they have the relevant skills to help them to creatively solve social challenges through entrepreneurship and gainful employment in the ICT sector.”

He adds a call to action to corporate South Africa, “Let’s join together to create more opportunities and inspire young people with a disability to reach for their dreams and know that a better future is possible – not just this Disability Rights Awareness month, but as part of an ongoing strategic business plan.”

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