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Visually impaired persons gain skills in robotics

By Wallet Musa
05 October 2021   |   4:13 pm
Over 8 million adults are estimated to be visually impaired in Nigeria.

Over 8 million adults are estimated to be visually impaired in Nigeria.

People with visual impairment and persons living with life-threatening experiences are marginalized and excluded from family, mainstream school, the community and society for some unknown or superstitious reasons. Exclusion from access and development leaves these people socially, psychologically, financially, emotionally scarred.

The Special Needs Initiative For Growth in collaboration with Brainiacs STEM and Robotics conducted its third annual project on robotics capacity building for visually impaired teenagers in Kaduna state and visually impaired adults in Lagos state respectively.

35 visually impaired persons and their special needs educators benefited from the project and internship program designed to provide information on the variety of STEM and Robotics that is available for visually impaired persons to thrive in a social and economic framework, so that they can gain access to careers in technology.

The project was supported by Sifax Group.

The group’s Corporate Affairs Manager, Mr. Muyiwa Akande said Sifax’s goal for the project was to support children and adults with visual impairment in Lagos and Kaduna Nigeria to access and enjoy their rights; do things they value through education technology outcomes; and bridge disparities between children and adults with and without disabilities.

Senior Executive Director for Merakey Philadelphia Paul Sachs connected mental health balance, innovation, rehabilitation and support structures to the relevance of visual impairment.

The beneficiaries found it so useful that they asked a series of questions and further engaged with him.

The Visually Impaired young adults from the Nigeria Society for the Blind in Lagos State learnt how to prepare concrete and digital support materials, gained suggestions of work dynamics for programming, and were able to conduct collaborative activities, forms of feedback for the learners with visual impairment to better understand the syntax and semantics of the programming language for the Robotics.

The session was facilitated by Taiwo Fajuyigbe and Samuel Ayo from the Brainiacs STEM and Robotics.

The students learnt how to navigate past movable obstacles or assist in their ability to pre-locate, pre-sense and grasp an object. They were also introduced to the basics of robotics using the snap rover, a remote controlled car. The snap rover car moves by leveraging a simulated electrical connection using the snap circuit. Students learned the basics of circuit design and went ahead to design their own simple circuit that can help the rover move.

In Kaduna state, Dikko Yusuf deployed digital literacy skills through programming and data management to the visually impaired teenagers of Kaduna State Special Education School.

The Vice principal – Musa Saidu and Principal – Alheri Zuwahu commended this effort and worked with the Special Needs Initiative For Growth to develop individualised programs for the learners with visual impairment.

Theresa Odey, the Coordinator of the project from Brainiacs STEM and Robotics in Lagos State stated that the programme goal is to promote equity and inclusion in the educational sector – ensuring that students should ever feel that they cannot learn what other students are learning because of a disability.

Racheal Inegbedion, the Founding Executive Director of the Special Needs Initiative For Growth, shared insight on the relevance of the Robotics Project to connect visually impaired adults to STEM and Robotics, as well as connecting them to real life settings in entrepreneurship, education and other career-related paths that they wish to practice.

She stated that participants would be exposed to accessible concepts and build interests, such as data analysis, programming and accessible visualisation, creating interactive chatbots, robotics and general programming, which is relevant for their future of work.

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