Visually impaired Filipinos to benefit from Microsoft's computer science training

The Coding for Accessibility project uses a phased approach starting with digital literacy, followed by introduction to computer science and web publishing to prepare the students for mainstream programming.

By Adrian M. Reodique
Aug. 19, 2016



The Coding for Accessibilty project aims  to cultivate computer science skills to young Filipinos with visual impairment

Through its YouthSpark Programme, Microsoft has kicked off its "Coding for Accessibility" project last Monday (15 August 2016) in partnership with non-governmental organisation ATRIEV (Adaptive Technology for Rehabilitation, Integration and Empowerment of the Visually Impaired).

The project aims to cultivate computer science skills in young Filipinos with visual impairment. Microsoft also aims to expand the digital literacy training curriculum of ATRIEV to include courses like introduction to computer science.

The project uses a phased approach, starting with digital literacy, followed by introduction to computer science and web publishing to prepare the students for mainstream programming. A one-on-one coaching and tutorial will be conducted on the third phase of the programme.

"While access to education has generally improved, many people with disabilities are unable to go to school. In many cases, poverty, and the absence of reasonable accommodation confine PWDs at home, with little opportunity to harness their innate skills. As a computer literacy tool, the Coding for Accessibility project responds to these needs and helps broaden the learning and employability horizon, especially for visually impaired Filipinos," said Raul Cortez, Director for Corporate, External, and Legal Affairs (CELA) in Microsoft Philippines, in a press release.

At the end of the project, Microsoft and ATRIEV hopes to train 90 youth with visual impairment, 30 of whom will proceed to take formal IT courses in mainstream school. Microsoft will also conduct a Trainer's Training Programme to groom at least 10 visually impaired participants who will be qualified as trainers.

"ATRIEV and Microsoft YouthSpark dream the same dream. We both use information technology to improve the access of young people to opportunities, and improve their lives. ATRIEV will definitely benefit from Microsoft's global expertise and resources. In turn, ATRIEV shares its field experience and local solutions to the challenges that persons with disabilities face every day," said Tony Llanes, Executive Director of ATRIEV Philippines.

The project will end on 23 September 2016 and culminate with a hackathon to challenge participants to use computer science to make website accessible to people with disabilities. Students of the project are required to participate in the hackathon to complete the course. It is also open for other ATRIEV students, computer science students from universities, students of special science high schools, and young IT programmers.

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