An exhibition to showcase Information and Communication Technology (ICT) services available for the blind and partially sighted has been mounted at the on-going six-day Fifth Africa Forum on Blindness in Accra.
On display are Africa’s best Assistive Technology Devices which fits perfectly into the demands of the Forum on the theme; “Access Africa; Social Inclusion for all Persons”.
The devices provide a stimulating opportunity for the sharing of information, knowledge and experience about new and innovative concepts that brings change and improvement in the quality of lives of persons who are blind or partially sighted for the benefit of society.
The exhibition would also provide a common platform for consumers, governments, service providers and other key stakeholders to expand an intra-regional network, share information, learn about specific techniques and new options of service models practiced on the continent.
Mr Enoch Teye Mensah, Minister of Employment and Social Welfare, opening the exhibition, acknowledged the importance of exploiting the full benefit of social inclusion, stressing on the importance of closing the technological gap which currently existed among various categories of the society.
He noted that rather than forging unity, technology had been found to be widening the knowledge and communication gap between the privileged and less privileged in societies.
The Sector Minister called on civil society organisations to support government’s effort in providing such special kinds of infrastructure and learning materials for the less privileged in society.
Mr Yaw Ofori Debra, President of Ghana Blind Union, said the exhibition was a significant opportunity for intra-African networking among organisations, professionals, families, and people who are blind and visually impaired.
He explained that the forum was expected to break down barriers, create limitless opportunities and share information on avenues for an inclusive society to build upon the declaration and signing of the Charter on Persons with Disabilities.
Mr Debra said full access required access to information through accessible reading materials, access to the environment through safer streets, access to employment though job training and advocacy, access to recreation and access to quality healthcare.
“Currently, the challenges of people who are blind and visually impaired are enormous due to the failure of governments and civil society to invest in building and providing the required resources for persons with disabilities,” he added.
Mr Debra said the forum would focus on using the power of technology to offer demonstrations and presentations on assistive technology, to provide greater independence to individuals who are blind or partially sighted and also help advance their equality and rights in the societies where they reside.
Over 350 delegates across Africa, including parents, persons who are blind or partially sighted, representatives from organisations of and for the blind, universities and ministries, international partners, vendors, and sponsors of assistive technology are attending the forum which is being coordinated by the Institutional Development Programme (IDP).