US Supports Tech-driven Solutions to Disability Issues

Funmi Ogundare

Students of the University of Ibadan, Oyo State recently converged on the campus for the 2019 CampusLabs Disability Hackathon, designed to address the challenges and needs of people with disabilities using technology solutions.

Following a five-day boot camp facilitated by three Mandela Washington Fellows; Emeka Ossai (CEO, CampusLabs), Busola Majekodunmi and Tobiloba Ajayi, 26 participating students representing seven teams pitched their ideas before a jury of leading tech leaders and disability inclusion advocates.
The hackathon is supported by a public diplomacy grant from the United States Consulate in Lagos.

Speaking at the grand finale of the programme the US Consulate Public Affairs Officer, Mr. Russell Brooks commended the students for working collaboratively to improve accessibility and mobility for people living with disabilities.

Brooks, who also served as a member of the jury for the pitch competition, explained that hackatons provide opportunities for solving problems in novel ways.
“The United States government is proud to support initiatives like this which seek to leverage the exponential power of technology to solve problems and promote a culture of social innovation and inclusion,” he said.

He explained that about 15 per cent of Nigeria’s population representing 25 million people have one form of disability or another, while calling for concerted efforts to promote inclusion and reduce the obstacles they face.

“Inclusion is a good indicator of how much we value and respect human life. We must become more actively involved in creating a more inclusive environment for all,” he said.

The Vice-Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Professor Idowu Olayinka, who attended the programme with his principal officers, expressed commitment to supporting students working hard to promote inclusion of people living with disabilities.

Team Afia won the competition with their pitch for an app that will ease access of people living with disabilities to connect with providers of basic social services.
They were rewarded with a cash prize of N500,000 for their impressive performance.

All seven teams in the pitch competition came up with varying technological solutions after meeting with families and people living with disabilities to gain a better understanding of the challenges they face.
CampusLabs works across Nigerian universities to raise a community of budding social entrepreneurs capable of implementing high-impact projects that benefit their local communities.

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